Republican presidential candidates have rushed to Israel’s defense following the Hamas terrorist attacks, listing immediate actions they believe the U.S. should take to assist the ally as the war wages on.
Israel began its counteroffensive in Gaza following Saturday’s terrorist attacks that have led to thousands of dead Israelis and Palestinians, as well as at least 27 Americans, and many others in hostage by Hamas. The GOP presidential hopefuls called for various forms of immediate action the U.S. should take, including providing aid to Israel, freezing the $6 billion President Joe Biden recently promised Iran in exchange for American prisoners and imposing sanctions on Iran.
“We must not only stand with Israel, but we must support them as they hunt down and eradicate these barbarians. Israel, with the full support of the United States, should kill Hamas members and extinguish their entire infrastructure,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wrote in a Monday tweet. “America must immediately do three things: (i) freeze any money Joe Biden has made available to Iran; (ii) cut off any and all types of foreign aid flowing to Hamas; and (iii) immediately shut down America’s wide-open southern border to ensure we are in a position to better protect Americans here at home from these real threats.”
After the Biden administration signed off on sending $6 billion to Iran on Sept. 11 in exchange for five American prisoners, it will reportedly stop Iran from accessing the funds following the Hamas terrorist attacks.
Along with taking back the $6 billion, DeSantis said Thursday that he would “impose the tightest possible sanctions on Iran” to prevent the country from “fueling terrorism.”
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley also called for freezing the $6 billion, and proposed it be redirected toward Israel instead. The former ambassador then suggested imposing sanctions on Iran and those who purchase their oil.
“Israel needs our help in this battle of good vs. evil,” Haley wrote in a tweet laying out her plan.
The former ambassador said the U.S. should “provide Israel with all arms and intelligence it needs to defend itself and destroy the terrorists in its midst,” “place all regional governments, particularly the government of Lebanon, on notice that they must not allow the use of their territory to engage in this battle” and “end American taxpayer support for all Palestinian entities or United Nations-backed entities that side with Hamas or fail to denounce antisemitic activity.”
Former President Donald Trump maintains that the Israel-Hamas conflict would not have happened if he was president, and also called Wednesday for freezing the $6 billion. Under the Trump administration, the Abraham Accords were established and the U.S. Embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem.
Conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy offered a plan to support Israel, but cautioned against getting involved in another war in the Middle East, taking aim at Haley for calling Hamas’ aggression as an “attack on America” and saying “finish them.”
“The Hamas-led attacks on Israel were barbaric and cannot be condoned. We require a rational response that supports Israel while avoiding another U.S.-led disaster in the Middle East,” Ramaswamy wrote on Twitter. “The U.S. should provide Israel with diplomatic support, intelligence-sharing, and necessary munitions to defend its own homeland, while taking special care to avoid a broader regional war in the Middle East that would *not* advance U.S. interests.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott addressed what actions the U.S. should take in the war during a foreign policy speech Tuesday, and gave insight as to how he’d support the ally if president.
“Number one — We need to rescue the American hostages and get them out. Period. We need to bring those Americans home this instant. Use our Special Forces if we have to,” Scott said. “And when I’m in the Oval Office, if Israel finds itself in need of anything, one phone call to my White House is all it will take. When America’s allies need to reload, the arsenal of democracy has to be stocked and ready.”
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also delivered a major foreign policy speech, where he called for giving Israel “maximum political and military support,” and ending U.S. aid to Iran in the wake of the Hamas attacks.
“Hamas is a proxy of Iran. We need to put an end to Joe Biden’s Iran appeasement immediately locking down all the money that he’s made available to Iran over these past few months — not just the last $6 billion, but all of it — and we also need to fully enforce our oil sanctions,” Burgum said Wednesday.
Burgum also told reporters Thursday that he would commit to sending U.S. troops into Israel to rescue hostages.
Former Vice President Mike Pence believes the U.S. should cancel the $6 billion ransom payment and leverage its military power to “isolate Iran,” as well as imposing “snapback sanctions” in the region, he told Fox News Wednesday. Pence also supports sending another aircraft carrier group to be positioned near the ally.
“If I was President of the United States, I’d have the team in the Situation Room, I’d have directed the Joint Special Operations Command to stand up special forces and have them immediately be prepared to deploy into Gaza, and tell Hamas, ‘you either give up all the American hostages, give up all the Israeli hostages, or we are going in with IDF forces and we’re going to bring them home,’” said Pence.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spelled out three actions the U.S. should take in response to the war, including addressing the current speaker vacancy Congress has.
“When America shows weakness and divisions, bad actors across the world try to capitalize on it. Not having a House Speaker right now is irresponsible,” Christie wrote on Twitter Monday. “Three steps America must take: Get a House Speaker, contain the conflict so it doesn’t spread into other regions, and work with Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure they have everything they need.”
After Kevin McCarthy was ousted from his leadership position last week, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise secured the GOP nomination for speaker on Wednesday, only to withdraw himself from the speaker’s race Thursday night. Rep. Jim Jordan from Ohio was then tapped for the GOP nomination for speaker, and awaits a tough vote on the floor of the House to win the speakership.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also said the House must elect a speaker to deliver appropriations to Israel, which should be separate from Ukraine funding.
“Israel needs to do what they’ve got to do and we know what they’re gonna do, and we will support them — we’ve got to eliminate Hamas,” Hutchinson said during a Tuesday town hall.
Conservative radio personality Larry Elder called for freezing the $6 billion, and told the DCNF that Democrats must be held accountable for certain associations with antisemitism in the wake of the attacks.
“There is a direct connection between the recent terror attacks in Israel and Biden’s appeasement of Iran,” Elder said. “The attacks also serve as a stark reminder that the Democrats must urgently address the hypocrisy within their ranks regarding racism and antisemitism. We must hold our leaders accountable for their associations while fostering an environment of understanding and unity.”
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