Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) along with eleven other GOP Senators held a press conference Wednesday to reiterate their support for Israel, in hopes that the Biden administration will do the same. This comes after almost 20 GOP senators signed a resolution Tuesday to condemn Hamas attacks on Israel.
The senators held the press conference out of frustration with the current administration’s handling of the conflict. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) said the security situation is out of control at the event. Young also signed the resolution.
“Eight months ago we had unprecedented peace breaking out in the Middle East,” the senator said, who has served in both bodies of Congress for ten years. “But here we are months later, the wheels have literally fallen off the security situation.”
Many senators pointed out the president’s changing tone in the days since the violence started. “Israel has a right to protect itself,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said, echoing other senators. He pointed out that this was a direct quote from Biden early in the conflict.
But his messaging seems to be affected by the left. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) talked about how Biden’s message “then became he supports a cease fire. Then his aide said well he talked really tough to Benjamin Netanyahu. Today he said he expect significant deescalation from Israel. Joe Biden pretty soon is going to be supporting a resolution to stop arms sales to Israel.”
Cotton also announced during the conference that House Democrats introduced an additional resolution to block military resupply to Israel.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) disagreed with the House Democrats’ proposal. Instead, Lankford said that “the strongest negotiating position we have” is remaining closely allied to Israel. Otherwise, it “stirs this chaos that’s in the region.”
Moreover, Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AL) pointed to “one of the fortunate things that’s happening.” He said, “Civilian lives are being saved because of years of cooperation between the United States in Israel on missile defense.”
And Sen. Cindy Highsmith (R-MS) promised continued support for Israel “They are our allies. We are not going to abandon them at this time.”
Finally, Sen. Roger Marshall (R-AK) also brought attention to a diplomatic response to the conflict. “We still don’t have a nominee for the ambassador to Israel,” Marshall said. He called it a “signal to go ahead” for Iran and Hamas.
You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism
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Biden Administration Sacrificing Saudi-Israel Deal on Altar of Palestinian Statehood
Iran kicked out one-third of its nuclear inspectors. The Biden administration is on the verge of getting Iran to release five hostages in exchange for unfreezing $6 billion of Iranian cash, and potentially five Iranian prisoners held in US custody. As Iran is on the march, a breakthrough in Middle East peace can’t come fast enough.
The best way to check Iranian ambitions in the region would be the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. While such a deal would be “tectonic,” the Biden administration is destroying the prospects for normalization because it continues to be obsessed with linking the deal to Palestinian nationalism.
More than any of the known Palestinian demands to date, the Biden administration is fixated on Palestinian statehood. And the administration continues to browbeat Israel on that point. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has recently claimed that both Saudi Arabia and the Biden administration view a two-state solution an important piece to any deal. Previously, Blinken told Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, that Israel would be “misreading the situation” if it doesn’t think that significant concessions to the Palestinians would be required to broker a Saudi-Israel deal. White House National Security Council spokesman Jake Sullivan also told Dermer that that Israel will need to give significant concessions to the Palestinians so that the Biden administration can sell the deal to Democrats in Congress.
One unconfirmed Saudi press report stated that the Saudis have walked away from talks, due to concerns that Israel wouldn’t agree to placate the Palestinians. However, both an American and an Israeli official have asserted that that report is false.
What is more likely is that the Saudis are taking a pragmatic, not absolutist, approach to a Palestinian track. According to an unnamed Arab official who is familiar with recent talks between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority (PA) earlier this month, Saudi Arabia is now communicating to the PA that it is willing to abandon the two-state solution as a pre-condition for normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and that the PA needs to acclimate its demands to that fact. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has proposed to re-start aid to the PA, halted since 2016, in efforts to get the PA to at least tacitly support normalization.
The Israeli response to Palestinian nationalism is much more publicly opposed. Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi has rejected the idea of Palestinian statehood as part of the deal. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said the concept of Israeli concessions to the Palestinians as a part of normalization is “a fiction” as such a deal “has nothing to do with Judea and Samaria [commonly referred to in the West as the ‘West Bank’].”
Israel’s hostility to Palestinian nationalism is well founded. As the Oslo Accords turn 30 years old, the so called “peace process” has failed to bring peace to Israel, as Israel has had to defend itself against at least five warsand countless smaller violent conflicts against the Palestinians since 1993. PA President Mahmoud Abbas continued to show his true bigoted face with a recent anti-Semitic diatribe, part and parcel of the systemic anti-Semitism and incitement to violence of the PA.
The Biden administration continues to stand in the way of Saudi Arabia’s normalization of relations with Israel, as it continues to pursue maximalist demands on Palestinian statehood. This is a non-starter for Israel, and not a top concern for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, like Israel, is primarily focused on using the deal to leverage its strength against Iran – as Saudi Arabia is looking to secure US support for advanced weapons, a NATO-like alliance, and civilian nuclear energy. In order to make a sustainable counterweight against Iranian aggression, the Biden administration must jettison its demands for Palestinian statehood, and at the very least answer Saudi concerns with a serious counter-offer. Failure to buttress Israel, Saudi Arabia and our Gulf allies will likely result in a resurgent Iran.
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