The US could announce new assistance to Israel as soon as Sunday, a US official said, as the Biden administration works to bolster its Middle East ally in the wake of Saturday’s unprecedented attack by Hamas.
At the same time, the current dysfunction in Congress remains an open question for American officials as they work to provide Israel what it needs. Without a sitting House Speaker, administration officials are unclear about what can be accomplished.
“It’s actually something we were discussing today,” the official said. “Without a speaker of the House, that is a unique situation we’re gonna have to work through.”
Top American and Israeli officials have been working throughout the day to identify where Washington can be of assistance as Israel prepares to respond to the attack, including at the Pentagon, State Department and the White House.
“We are in deep discussions with the Israelis about some of their particular needs as they respond to this,” a senior US administration official said Saturday.
The official said “we might have more to say about it as early as tomorrow.”
When Biden spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier Saturday, the President reinforced the US would provide Israel what it needed to defend itself, though not at a level of specificity to include particular weapons or hardware.
The official said the Israelis would likely be “looking closely” at what intelligence if any existed ahead of the attack.
But they said there was no “specific warning or indicator from another country” that would have predicted such an assault.
“In terms of the level of sophistication of what transpired overnight here, and what continues to transpire, that’s a very different, a different issue, and I’ve not seen anything, support that,” the official said.
The US “always share(s) timely intelligence about threats in the region, with Israel and other partners,” the official said.
The official insisted it was “really premature to speculate” whether Saturday’s attack would scuttle attempts by the Biden administration to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Still, the official said “terrorist groups like Hamas will not derail any such outcome.”