c994d02922b4f232d0dcff70499775a7084fa52a Biden Faces Backlash at Home Over Iran Policy After Extending Support to Israel
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Biden Faces Backlash at Home Over Iran Policy After Extending Support to Israel

(Image Credit: REUTERS)

In the wake of a deadly attack by Hamas, President Joe Biden has offered Israel "all appropriate means of support" and issued a stern warning to any party hostile to Israel. U.S. and Israeli officials are currently coordinating on Israel's military needs, with a decision expected soon. The United States is actively working with other governments to contain the crisis and ensure it remains confined to Gaza following the Hamas attack in Israel.

During a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden expressed his support and emphasized that Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. The two leaders, who have had strained relations in the past, recently met in New York to demonstrate solidarity. Biden made it clear in a written statement and televised remarks that this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit the attacks for their own advantage, as the world is closely watching the situation unfold.

While there is currently no indication of Iran's involvement in the Hamas attack, the U.S. is committed to investigating any potential connections. The senior U.S. official emphasized that there were no specific warnings or indications of the attack beforehand, highlighting the importance of timely intelligence sharing.

Biden has directed his national security team to maintain communication with countries in the region, including Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and European allies, to stay updated on the situation.

It is worth noting that Biden's efforts to support Israel come at a time when Washington is facing its own challenges. Republicans are searching for a successor to ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and a budget showdown with Biden and the Democrats looms, which could potentially lead to a government shutdown in the near future.

Outcry on Iran Policy 

Criticism from Republicans has quickly emerged regarding President Joe Biden's support of Israel amidst the ongoing conflict with Iran. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential nominee hopeful, contended that Biden's lenient approach towards Iran has resulted in the country's funding of the war against Israel.

DeSantis seemed to be particularly referencing a prisoner swap agreement that the Biden administration completed with Iran in September, the details of which were publicly revealed in August. As part of the deal, the United States waived sanctions, allowing for the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian funds from South Korea to Qatar. This transfer was crucial for the successful execution of the U.S.-Iran prisoner swap.

While a Biden administration official has clarified that none of the $6 billion has been spent, and the funds are intended for humanitarian purposes, DeSantis's criticism persists. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson defended the administration, emphasizing that the funds can only be used for essential items such as food and medicine intended for the Iranian people.

Brian Nelson, a senior Treasury Department official, confirmed that the money remains held in restricted accounts in Doha, untouched since the prisoner swap arrangement was implemented.

The impact of the recent Hamas attack on the U.S.-Israel-Saudi normalization negotiations remains uncertain. Nevertheless, a U.S. official has affirmed Washington's commitment to not allow the actions of the militant group to derail the ongoing talks.

While the United States has emphasized the necessity for Israeli concessions in any agreement, the specific nature of these concessions has yet to be determined. Last month, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia is determined to secure a military pact with the United States, which would require American defense of the kingdom in exchange for the opening of ties with Israel. Even if Israel does not offer significant concessions to the Palestinians in their pursuit of statehood, Saudi Arabia is expected to proceed with the deal.

Biden's extension of support to Israel has drawn swift criticism from Republican opponents seeking to challenge him in the 2024 presidential election. While concerns about the prisoner swap deal persist, the Biden administration maintains that the funds reserved for humanitarian purposes have not been spent. Additionally, the recent Hamas attack has not deterred the United States from its commitment to continue the normalization negotiations, even if Israeli concessions to the Palestinians remain unresolved.


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