Sunday, December 03, 2023

Biden Admin Says Calls for Israel Ceasefire “Not Accurate”

Statements from the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs and Secretary of State Antony Blinken posted to social media over the weekend “did not accurately reflect” the position of the Biden administration in the wake of a deadly Hamas terrorist attack, a State Department spokesman told RealClearPolitics.

The White House has not called on Israel to stand down, and in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, President Biden promised that military assistance was “now on its way to Israel with more to follow over the coming days.”

Blinken repeatedly echoed that sentiment from Biden on the Sunday show circuit.

“The only things we’ve said to Israel are that we’re here, we’ve got your back, we want to make sure that you have the support that you need,” he told Margaret Brennan on CBS News’ Face the Nation. “We want to make sure that you have the assistance that you need.”

And yet Sunday evening, in a since-deleted post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Blinken seemed to back a ceasefire.

“Turkish Foreign Minister @HakanFidan and I spoke further on Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel. I encouraged Turkey’s advocacy for a cease-fire and the release of all hostages by Hamas immediately,” the secretary of state wrote.

This came after the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs shared a similar sentiment early Saturday morning, saying, “We unequivocally condemn the attack of Hamas terrorists and the loss of life that has incurred. We urge all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks. Terror and violence solve nothing.” That initial tweet was also taken down later.

Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesman, pointed RCP to a readout of Blinken’s call with the Turkish foreign minister which makes no mention of a ceasefire and instead emphasizes “the United States’ unwavering focus on halting the attacks by Hamas and securing the release of all hostages.”

“That tweet didn’t accurately reflect the language of the accompanying readout, which noted we are calling for Hamas to stop its attacks on Israel,” Miller said of the Sunday evening social media post. “That is our position, as the secretary made clear in his appearances yesterday.”

The State Department said Monday that at least nine American citizens have been killed in the Hamas terror attack and invasion of Israeli territory. Israel’s death toll stands at 700 but is expected to rise. Netanyahu said Saturday, “We are at war,” and Israel has launched an offensive in response.

While the White House makes ready to support the Israeli counteroffensive, some House Democrats are calling for a ceasefire, notably members of the Democratic Socialists of America, some of whom who make up the informal progressive caucus known as “the Squad.”

“Today is devastating for all those seeking a lasting peace and respect for human rights in Israel and Palestine. I condemn Hamas’ attack in the strongest possible terms,” New York Rep. Alexandia Ocasio-Cortez said in a Saturday statement.

“No child and family should ever endure this kind of violence and fear, and this violence will not solve the ongoing oppression and occupation in the region,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.

“An immediate ceasefire and de-escalation is urgently needed to save lives,” she concluded.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar expressed a similar position, condemning the attacks as “senseless violence” before calling for “de-escalation and a ceasefire.”

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, meanwhile, released a statement Saturday calling for a ceasefire and denouncing the violence. She did not, however, condemn Hamas for their terrorist attacks.

“I grieve the Palestinian and Israeli lives lost yesterday, today, and every day. I am determined as ever to fight for a just future where everyone can live in peace, without fear and with true freedom, equal rights, and human dignity,” Tlaib said.

“The path to that future must include lifting the blockade, ending the occupation, and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance,” she added.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was removed as House Speaker last week, called on the Biden administration to confront what he called “a new evil axis of power,” and laid out a plan to support Israel that included rescuing American hostages taken by Hamas and resupplying Israel, while reimposing tougher sanctions on Iran. In remarks at the Capitol Monday, without mentioning any member by name, McCarthy condemned “the antisemitism here in this House.”

“Allowing elected members of this body to speak antisemitism and not condemn it,” he said, “is wrong. To avoid it is wrong.”

Republicans argue that a ceasefire would essentially reward Hamas for its barbarous attack, and the Squad’s colleagues were quick to condemn them. South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace called Ocasio-Cortez a “Hamas apologist” for “asking for ‘ceasefire’ after one side launches a massive terrorist attack.”

With Blinken at his side Saturday in the State dining room at the White House, Biden said that “there is never justification for terrorist acts.” The president added, “my administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.