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Stefanik calls for wiping Hamas “off the face of the Earth” and praises Trump policies in speech to Israeli Knesset

Allison Robbert/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Representative Elise Stefanik with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson during a press conference in front of the United States Capitol in Washington on May 16, 2024.



CNN

House Republican Party Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik delivered a speech to the Israeli Knesset on Sunday, saying Israel’s victory in the war against Hamas begins with “wiping out” those responsible for the terrorist attacks. of October 7 “from the face of the Earth” and calling for a return to the policies of former President Donald Trump.

“Total victory begins, but only begins, with the erasure of those responsible for October 7 from the face of the Earth. There can be no recoverable dignity for Hamas and its supporters,” she said in her speech in which she called herself “the main supporter and partner” of the project. Trump and sharply criticized the Biden administration.

The New York Republican, who is seen as a potential vice presidential pick for the presumptive GOP nominee, spoke out on the House floor about reports of anti-Semitism on college campuses, drawing criticism watch out for his grilling of university presidents. Her speech made her the highest-ranking House Republican to address Israel’s governing body since the Oct. 7 attacks, according to the GOP conference.

“When the enemy walks through the doors of the United Nations, it is America that must call it by its name and destroy it. President Trump gets it,” Stefanik said.

“But you know as well as I do that the enemy is not just within the gates of the United Nations. It is also in the powerful Western institutions of my country and beyond that the virus is spreading, the vile virus of anti-Semitism. This is why total victory means not only physical self-defense but also ideological self-defense,” added Stefanik, who claimed that pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses calling for a ceasefire in the conflict “are cosplaying Hamas”.

In a rare instance of a member of Congress publicly criticizing the US president to a foreign government, Stefanik lashed out at Biden, saying there was “no excuse” for his administration to block the military aid to Israel.

“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 has been duly approved by Congress,” Stefanik said.

The Biden administration has suspended sending some bombs to Israel, citing opposition to weapons used in the densely populated areas of Rafah. But he also began the first steps in a process to advance a new billion-dollar arms deal for Israel.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement Sunday: “There has been no better friend to Israel than President Biden.”

“He was the first U.S. president to visit Israel during wartime – following the horrific October 7 terrorist attacks – and the first president to order the U.S. military to defend Israel against foreign attack. As he has demonstrated, President Biden’s support for Israel’s security is ‘ironclad,’” Bates said.

“Unlike some right-wing figures, President Biden did not denounce the Israeli government in the days following October 7, nor did he ever praise terrorist organizations like Hezbollah – and he will not be lectured by anyone who has remained silent in the face of these offensive statements,” Bates said in reference to statements by Trump, who called the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah “very intelligent” and said Israel “does not was not prepared” for October 7 in an interview with Fox News a few days after the attack.

Biden said publicly for the first time earlier this month that he would stop some U.S. arms shipments to Israel — which he acknowledged have been used to kill civilians in Gaza — if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a major invasion of Rafah.

“We are not giving up on Israel’s security. We are moving away from Israel’s ability to wage war in these areas,” Biden said at the time in an interview with CNN.

Stefanik attempted to draw a contrast between the White House and the House Republican Party, telling Fox’s Shannon Bream after his speech: “The world is looking for moral leadership…and it’s important that House Republicans step up to fill the gap.” this void. »

“One of the main points of my speech was that the American people stand strongly with Israel, as do the Republicans in the House of Representatives,” she told Fox, applauding the bill passed by the House. House and led by the Republican Party that would prevent Biden from withholding, stopping, overturning or reversing a decision. the cancellation of arms transfers from the United States to Israel already approved by Congress.

Asked about civilian deaths in Gaza – where more than 35,000 people have been killed, according to the enclave’s health ministry – Stefanik highlighted Hamas’ use of “civilian shields.”

“Israel has great respect for human rights,” she said, “and that is how they have conducted all of their operations, which is why the United States stands firmly behind sides of Israel. »

Human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes and abuses during the Gaza war. The Biden administration said in a State Department report to Congress earlier this month that it was “reasonable to assess” that U.S. weapons had been used by Israeli forces in Gaza in a manner ” incompatible” with international humanitarian law, but stopped short of doing so. officially claiming that Israel had violated the law.

CNN’s Michelle Shen contributed reporting.

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