Matthew Miller reaffirms US commitment to Israel security


State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Thursday distanced President Biden’s remarks on possibly withholding future arms shipments to Israel from the findings of the impending report evaluating the credibility of Israel’s assurances it’s following international law. 

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden said in a Wednesday night interview on CNN

Miller parsed through the president’s words saying the administration does believe too many civilians have died and Israel needs to do more to minimize civilian harm, however, that’s different than a legal question of whether there has been violation of international law. 

Biden believes civilian costs are too high

The report, initially due Wednesday, is expected to be released in the coming days, according to the State Department. 

According to Miller, the State Department has yet to reach a determination about Israel’s compliance with international law. 

Palestinians flee from the east of the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 9, 2024 (credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)

Miller described Biden’s Wednesday night remarks as “forward looking” while the State Department’s report is “retrospective.”

Israel has achieved a great number of its military objectives with the elimination of much of Hamas’ battalion leadership in Northern and Central Gaza, according to Miller, though there are still too many civilians dying even when Israel has taken additional steps to minimize civilian harm. 

Miller reiterated the US still supports Israel’s right to defend itself against other threats despite opposing a major military operation in Rafah. 

“We will always be committed to Israel’s security,” Miller said. “That has not changed, that will not change,” 

Miller repeated Biden’s assessment that Israel’s operation in Rafah thus far has been limited. 

According to Miller the channels of communication between the US and Israel “remain just as open today” and he doesn’t expect that to change in any way. 

Miller said Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were just as forthright as Biden’s conversations with the Israeli leader. 

Miller also said the US shift in policy will not meaningfully affect the trajectory of the hostage talks. 

“We will continue to work for a ceasefire that brings the hostages home, no matter what it takes,” Miller said. “That will continue to be the goal that we will try to work for.”

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