President Biden met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to reaffirm U.S. support for Israel after a night of bloodshed with civilians in Tel Aviv safe from Hamas rockets.
“I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not so long ago. I will issue a statement very soon on this, ”Biden told reporters at the White House.
“I expect and hope this will end sooner or later. But Israel has the right to defend itself against thousands of rockets flying in your territory ”.
Israel has launched airstrikes against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to target what it says are rocket caches stored by the Islamist group near where civilians live.
Both parties to the conflict have reported civilian casualties.
Biden told reporters that “my national security and defense personnel have been in constant contact with their counterparts in the Middle East – not just the Israelis but also everyone from the Egyptians to the Saudis to the Saudis. Emiratis, etc. “
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Netanyahu separately to reaffirm US support.
The State Department said Blinken “expressed concern over the barrage of rocket attacks against Israel, condolences for the lives lost as a result, and strong US support for Israel’s right to defend itself.” “.
« [Blinken] underlined the need for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in safety and security, as well as to enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy, ”the State Department said.
Israel was able to bring down numerous rockets from Gaza using the US-sponsored Iron Dome missile defense system.
Biden had previously picked up heat because of his middle-of-the-road approach to the growing situation in Israel.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the president to fully enter the corner of Israel.
“Israel needs to know that their friends and allies in the United States are on their side. We support Israel’s right to peace and security. We support their goal of restoring deterrence, ”McConnell (R-Ky.) Said in a Twitter post Wednesday morning.
“The administration must not give up our efforts to hold terrorists and their supporters accountable,” he said.
Protests erupt across the United States as violence escapes between Israel and Hamas
And the Republican National Committee criticized the Biden administration for its lax support for Israel.
“These attacks prove that the weakness of the leadership of the Biden administration reverses the historic progress made by the Trump administration towards peace in the region and signaled to terrorist organizations, like Hamas, that they could get away with it.” by attacking our nation’s most powerful ally in the Middle East. President Ronna McDaniel tweeted Wednesday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki and State Department spokesman Ned Price answered questions about the escalation of the conflict in recent days and declined to condemn either. the other side, urging the two groups instead to work on de-escalation.
ISRAEL AND HAMAS CONTINUE TO TRADE FIRE AS LETHAL CONFRONTATION PERSISTS
Former President Donald Trump, who is considering revenge against Biden in 2024, blamed Biden for the violence that began with clashes in Jerusalem, saying it was the result of “Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel “.
The Trump administration recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem after decades of reluctance over Arab claims to the city. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner led an effort that brokered diplomatic relations between Israel and four Arab countries.
“When I was in office, we were known as the Presidency of Peace, because Israel’s adversaries knew that the United States was firmly on Israel’s side and that there would be swift retaliation if Israel was under attack, ”Trump said.
In April, Biden reversed the Trump administration’s policy towards the Palestinians and began restoring up to $ 253 million in aid.
Trump severed ties with the Palestinian Authority in 2018 after moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Republicans have criticized the resumption of aid and have expressed concern that the funds will eventually end up in the hands of militant groups who arm themselves and launch a new round of attacks against Israel.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the payments “pay support to kill.”
“I am deeply disturbed by the recent decisions of the Biden administration to turn a blind eye to the behavior of the Palestinian Authority,” Graham said in a statement at the time.
“The willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians without asking for anything in return is deeply troubling and should worry us all.”
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