The Biden administration’s call for Israel to de-escalate its defensive actions against Hamas is perceived by a group of Republican House Homeland Security Committee members as weakening U.S. backing for Israel. This comes at a time when Israel confronts one of its most challenging threats in the past five decades.
These Republicans have expressed concern over the administration’s social media posts, particularly from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging Israel to reduce tensions following an unexpected attack by Hamas, an Iranian-supported group. This assault resulted in significant casualties and captives. Blinken’s call for a cease-fire on the platform now known as X (previously Twitter) was swiftly removed after criticisms arose, suggesting the administration compromised Israel’s self-defense rights. Blinken’s fast 180 was the second time the State Department backtracked on a statement calling for Israeli restraint.
Another similar post from the State Department’s Office for Palestinian Affairs called on Israel to stand down. That tweet was also deleted, with clarifications that it wasn’t in line with U.S. policy.
The Republicans argue that such inconsistent communications from the Biden administration could erode international support for Israel. They also highlight certain U.S. foreign policy actions, like a recent $6 billion payment to Iran, as potential indirect enablers of Hamas’s actions. A rush by the administration to delete the errant posts indicates an “effort to conceal their statements,” according to Rep. Mark Green (R., Tenn.), the chair of the House Homeland Security, and other Republican members.
In a letter to the White House, these lawmakers voiced their apprehensions, emphasizing that Israel has the right to defend itself against terror attacks. They also pointed out perceived national security lapses and the current administration’s perceived lack of strength in global affairs. The State Department, however, refrained from commenting on the deleted posts or the apparent policy contradictions.
The Republicans are prepping for a Homeland Security Committee hearing, which will delve into threats from Iran, including its alleged operations within the U.S. This is especially relevant given the recent Hamas attack, which showcased advanced tactics, suggesting Iranian influence in enhancing Hamas’s capabilities.
The hearing will also address the implications of these threats for U.S. security. Additionally, the lawmakers challenge the White House’s assertion that the $6 billion payment to Iran didn’t fund Hamas’s activities. They argue that while the funds might not have been directly used, they could have indirectly supported terror groups by freeing up other Iranian financial resources. The lawmakers believe Iran had a role in planning and endorsing the attacks on Israel.