House Speaker Reveals Intervention Threat Over Potential US Sanctions on Israeli Battalion

House Speaker Mike Johnson revealed on Wednesday that he personally contacted White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan to express concerns about potential sanctions on an Israeli military battalion over its conduct in the West Bank.

“We heard a rumor of this before our [aid] bill was actually brought for a vote in the House [Saturday], I mean, hours before,” Johnson (R-La.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

“And I’ll tell you what I did, Hugh, and I don’t, I guess I’m breaking news here,” Johnson continued. “No one knows this. But I called the White House immediately and talked with Jake Sullivan, and [Secretary of State] Tony Blinken was overseas at the moment.

“But I made him send me an email where he committed to me in writing that it would not affect any of the funding that we were working on to assist Israel in this critical time, and that they would be very judicious in that.”

Johnson added that the issue “seems to have been resolved, and I am very hopeful that they won’t try to proceed on that. If they do, we’ll intervene.”

According to a report by Axios on Saturday, the Biden administration is expected to announce sanctions on the Israel Defense Forces’ Netzah Yehuda battalion this week.

This unprecedented move by the US would bar the battalion, which includes mostly ultra-Orthodox nationalist Jews, from receiving US military assistance or training.

The potential sanctions against an Israeli military unit would represent a significant diplomatic challenge for the Jewish state as it continues its conflict against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The investigation into the Netzah Yehuda battalion follows a series of incidents predating Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

One notable incident occurred in January 2022 when 78-year-old Palestinian American Omar Assad died of a heart attack after being arrested at an Israeli military checkpoint.

An IDF investigation concluded that Assad’s death was “a grave and unfortunate event, resulting from a moral failure and poor decision-making on the part of the soldiers” who failed to check Assad’s condition after he lost consciousness.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken indicated last week that he had made “determinations” regarding sanctions against the battalion and hinted at an imminent announcement.

According to Axios, Israel’s interim government has urged the State Department to reconsider its decision on sanctions, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced support for the battalion.

“If somebody thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit in the IDF,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday, “I will fight this with all my powers.”