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Stefanik blasts Biden in speech to Israel's Knesset

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) harshly denounced President Biden’s policy toward Israel during a speech to the country’s parliament, the Knesset, on Sunday in Tel Aviv. 

Stefanik, the highest-ranking Republican to visit Israel since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, blasted the president’s warnings that he could withhold support for Israel if it invades Rafah in Gaza.

“I have been clear at home and I will be clear here: There is no excuse for an American president to block aid to Israel — aid that was duly passed by the Congress, or to ease sanctions on Iran, paying a $6 billion ransom to the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, or to dither and hide while our friends fight for their lives,” Stefanik said in prepared remarks reviewed by The Hill.

“No excuse. Full stop,” she added. “It’s why I have sponsored, or backed, every measure to aid Israel that has come before the U.S. Congress. Every single one.”

Biden has repeatedly sent strong warnings to the Israeli government to better consider civilian casualties in Gaza and to assist in relieving the region’s humanitarian crisis. The halt of a military shipment last week and threats to halt further shipments represents the strongest sign yet from the Biden administration.

The move comes despite Biden’s consistent support for Israel. The president announced plans for a $1 billion arms deal for the country just days after threatening to cut off military supplies.

But Biden’s threats have been widely denounced by Republicans and some Democrats. The House passed a GOP-led bill to prevent the president from halting arms shipments to Israel in a 224-187 vote Thursday. The measure is not expected to pass the Senate.

Stefanik made clear her support for former President Trump in the speech, marking a rare departure from U.S. political tradition not to engage in partisan politics when overseas. She has been floated as a finalist to be Trump’s running mate in November.

“It’s why I led the calls for the White House to speak out against the corrupt ICC,” her prepared remarks continue, referencing the International Criminal Court, which is reportedly considering issuing an arrest warrant for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over accusations of war crimes. “It’s why, for years, I have been a leading proponent and partner to President Trump in his historic support for Israeli independence and security.”

“We must not let the extremism in ‘elite’ corners conceal the deep, abiding love for Israel among the American people,” Stefanik continued. “Most Americans feel a strong connection to your people. They have opened their hearts to you in this dark hour.”

The White House hit back on Stefanik’s attacks Sunday, instead saying that Biden is Israel’s closest ally.

“There has been no better friend to Israel than President Biden. He was the first American president to visit Israel during war time — in the aftermath of the horrific October 7th terrorist attacks — and the first president to order the U.S. military to defend Israel from a foreign nation’s attack,” spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement to The Hill.

Bates also attacked Trump in the statement.

“As he has demonstrated, President Biden’s support for Israel’s security is ‘ironclad,’” he continued. “Unlike some figures on the right, President Biden did not rail against the Israeli government in the days after October 7, nor has he ever praised terrorist organizations like Hezbollah — and he will not be lectured by any person who was silent in the face of those offensive statements.”

Filip Timotija and Mychael Schnell contributed.

Source: The Hill

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