Senate Republicans called Tuesday for the Biden administration to refreeze $6 billion in Iranian funds amid the Israel-Hamas war, citing indications that Iran helped Hamas plan its Oct. 7 terrorist attack on the Jewish state.
“You can’t be pro-Israel and pro-Iran,” Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., said.
“Joe Biden is the most pro-Iranian president we’ve ever had,” Marshall said. “Think about it. It goes way beyond the $6 billion we are talking about. Under this administration, the Iranian oil reserves went from $6 billion to $60 billion. How come? Since the moment [President] Joe Biden got into office, he turned his head to the [economic] sanctions we’ve had.”
Marshall was among nine GOP senators, led by Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who gathered Tuesday on Capitol Hill to demand that the Biden administration refreeze the $6 billion used as ransom for five American hostages held by Iran. That amount was to be released after being frozen under U.S. sanctions; the deal also included U.S. release of Iranian prisoners.
Blackburn and the other Senate Republicans spoke at a press conference called one day before Biden is set to arrive in Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Also Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to hold a confirmation hearing for Jacob Lew, a former treasury secretary in the Obama administration who Biden nominated to be ambassador to Israel.
For his part, Biden denounced Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel and compared the terrorist group to the Islamic State, a terrorist army also known as ISIS. Biden administration officials have insisted that Iranians have yet to get any of the $6 billion.
However, Marshall said the anticipated access to the $6 billion was likely enough for the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.
“I have a hunch the moment the Biden administration unfroze the $6 billion was the signal moment when the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard told Hamas, ‘Let’s go forward with this plan we’ve had going,’” Marshall said.
Blackburn said senators learned Biden’s trip to Israel was intentionally not announced until Secretary of State Antony Blinken received assurances from Netanyahu on a humanitarian aid package for Palestinians displaced by the war as the Israel Defense Force prepares to move into the Gaza Strip.
“The U.S. should not be placing conditions on our support for Israel because of demands made by the Squad,” Blackburn said, referring to a far-left group of pro-Palestinian House members that includes Reps. Illhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.
The Tennessee Republican said the United States also learned that Hamas accessed United Nations funding for Palestinian humanitarian relief, aid backed by U.S. tax dollars.
Blackburn warned about the dangers to the United States.
“As long as Biden allows our border to be open, an attack on our own soil isn’t a matter of if. It’s a matter of when,” Blackburn said. “Protecting our homeland and preventing Hamas sympathizers from entering our country is paramount, and the egregious actions of Hamas must not go unpunished.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., suggested U.S. intervention in the Hamas-Israel conflict.
“Not only should we cut off the money, we should put on the table that if there is a second front opened against Israel by Hezbollah, [which] has 100,000 precision-guided rockets pointed at Israel, if that happens, there will not be a two-front war, there will be a three-front war,” Graham said.
“There is either going to be one front or three fronts. I’m begging the Biden administration to be clear. Just don’t say ‘Don’t,’” the South Carolina Reopublican said, referring to President Joe Biden’s recent warning to Hezbollah and other potential combatants not to join the conflict.
“Spell out what happens if Hezbollah is used to try to expand this war and destroy Israel,” Graham told reporters. “I believe the people behind me would rise to the occasion and I hope the people on the other side would rise to the occasion if this war escalates.”
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