Republican candidates use attacks on Israel to criticize Biden over his Iran deal | ET REALITY

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Republican presidential candidates seized on Hamas’ attacks on Israel on Saturday to criticize President Biden, whom they sought to portray as enabling the Palestinian militants’ offensive.

Several leading contenders argued there was a connection between the surprise assault and a recent hostage release deal between the Biden administration and Iran, a longtime supporter of Hamas.

Former President Donald J. Trump, who has frequently portrayed himself as a steadfast ally of Israel and who moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, blamed Biden for the conflict.

“Unfortunately, American taxpayer money helped fund these attacks, which by many reports came from the Biden Administration,” Trump said in a statement. “We brought so much peace to the Middle East through the Abraham Accords, only to see Biden reduce it at a much faster pace than anyone thought possible.”

In exchange for the release of five Americans detained in Tehran, the Biden administration agreed in August to release $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil revenue funds for humanitarian purposes. The administration has stressed that the money could be used only for “food, medicine, medical equipment that would not have dual military use.”

Trump, the GOP front-runner, wasn’t the only one attacking Biden, as the entire Republican field weighed in on Saturday’s attacks.

in a video posted on XFormerly known as Twitter, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida blamed the Biden administration for its foreign policy decisions in the Middle East.

“Iran has helped finance this war against Israel, and Joe Biden’s policies, which have been soft on Iran, have helped fill its coffers,” he said. “Israel is now paying the price for those policies.”

A Biden campaign spokesperson directed questions about Saturday’s attacks to the National Security Council, which disputed the Republican candidates’ claims that there was a connection between the release of the funds and the attacks.

“Not a single penny of these funds has been spent, and when they are spent, they can only be spent on things like food and medicine for the Iranian people,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement. . “These funds have absolutely nothing to do with today’s horrific attacks, and this is not the time to spread disinformation.”

In a statement issued through the White House, Biden pledged solidarity with Israel and said he had spoken with Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister.

“The United States unequivocally condemns this heinous attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made it clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” Biden said. . “Terrorism is never justified. “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people.”

Republicans have repeatedly tried to burnish their pro-Israel bona fides over recent election cycles. In April, DeSantis visited Jerusalem to show his support for Israel, while former Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas He wore lapel pins with the flags of the United States and Israel. during the first primary debate in August.

However, although Republican candidates on Saturday endorsed the former US ally, there is a growing divide in the party between foreign policy hawks and those who favor a more isolationist approach.

In addition to criticizing Biden on Saturday, former Vice President Mike Pence had harsh words for fellow Republicans who prefer a more hands-off approach to conflicts abroad.

“This is what happens when @POTUS projects weakness on the world stage, bows to Iran’s mullahs with a $6 billion bailout, and GOP leaders signal America’s retreat as leader of the free world.” Pence said. wrote in X. “Weakness awakens evil.”

Other Republican candidates, including Nikki Haley, who was ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, denounced the attacks as acts of terrorism.

“Make no mistake: Hamas is a bloodthirsty terrorist organization backed by Iran and determined to kill as many innocent lives as possible,” Haley said in a statement.

Scott also joined some of his rivals in taking on Biden: “However, the truth is that Joe Biden funded these attacks on Israel,” he wrote in a publish in X. “America’s weakness is blood in the water for bad actors, but this is worse than that. “We not only invited this aggression, we paid for it.”

Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey echoed criticism from his Republican rivals in a social media post, calling the Biden administration’s release of $6 billion to Iran “idiotic.” Governor. David Burgum of North Dakota and Mr. Hutchinson Similarly, he sought to connect the attack to the release of humanitarian funds to Iran.

Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotechnology entrepreneur, called the attacks “barbaric and medieval” in a publish in X.

“Shooting civilians and kidnapping children are war crimes,” he wrote. “Israel’s right to exist and defend itself must never be doubted and Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah cannot be allowed to prevail.”

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