US Senator Ted Cruz has accused President Joe Biden of being gentle with Israel’s enemies and inciting more violence during a deadly 11-day war that upset Israelis and turned parts of the Gaza Strip into rubble.
Cruz, one of four prominent Republicans in Israel in the aftermath of the conflict, said in an interview that the Democratic president’s policies, including calling on Israel to end the war, had “encouraged” Hamas’ militant rulers. He said the US does not owe the Palestinians humanitarian aid as long as there is a danger of that money flowing into Hamas.
“The longer Joe Biden is weak against Hamas or Hezbollah or Iran, the more terrorist attacks escalate,” Cruz said after a day touring Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and examining damage in Ashkelon.
US Senator Ted Cruz gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Jerusalem, Monday, May 31. Cruz on Monday accused President Joe Biden of being gentle with Israel’s enemies and inciting further violence during a deadly 11-day war that rattled Israelis and turned parts of the Gaza Strip into rubble
Cruz also refused to rule out a new presidential election in 2024, leaving alive the prospect of another Republican brawl for the party’s presidential nomination — and perhaps a rematch with former President Donald Trump.
The fighting broke out on May 10 when Hamas fired a barrage of rockets into Jerusalem after weeks of protests and clashes over Israel’s police surveillance of a holy site with a focal point.
Before the ceasefire took effect on May 21, Hamas had fired more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli cities, while Israeli warplanes had hit some 1,000 targets in Gaza. More than 250 people were killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians living in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. Israel blames Hamas for the heavy civilian casualties as Hamas launches attacks from residential areas.
Throughout the fighting, Biden and many other world leaders continued to insist that Israel has a right to defend itself, even as concerns — and protests in places like Turkey, Pakistan and Britain — mounted over the crippling use of force against Gaza.
Cruz also refused to rule out a new presidential election in 2024, leaving the prospect of another Republican brawl for the party’s presidential nomination alive — and perhaps a rematch with former President Donald Trump.
Cruz’s comments were a stark departure from a once-common practice of not discussing domestic politics abroad, especially the incumbent US commander in chief.
At least two of the four U.S. Republicans visiting Israel this week have clear presidential ambitions — and all are seeking support from pro-Israel evangelical voters who are a core part of the GOP’s base.
In addition to Cruz, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was also Trump’s CIA director, tweeted Sunday that he was in Tel Aviv to attend Mossad chief Yossi Cohen’s retirement party.
‘Great to be in Tel Aviv with good friends!’ Pompeo tweeted.
Sen. Lindsay Graham was also on tour dealing with damage caused by rocket fire and meeting Israeli leaders.
Cruz, one of four prominent Republicans in Israel in the aftermath of the conflict, said in an interview that the Democratic president’s policies, including calling on Israel to end the war, had “encouraged” Hamas’s militant rulers.
“No one has done more for Israel than you, Senator Lindsey Graham,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. Graham, standing next to him, held up a sign that read, “More for Israel.” In a tweet later, he explained, “to help protect and defend against Hamas missile attacks.” On Tuesday, Graham will tour Israel with missile damage, he said in a press release.
Netanyahu enjoyed warm relations with Trump, alienating many segments of the Democratic Party. His relationships with Biden were cordial, but cooler.
Cruz and Senator Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., toured the rubble in Ashkelon, where a Hamas missile hit an apartment, killing an elderly woman’s caretaker. Cruz tweeted photos.
Hagerty, who was Trump’s ambassador to Japan, also criticized the various steps Biden took to roll back Trump’s policies. Biden, for example, has pledged some $360 million in aid to the Palestinians, including money to help repair war damage in Gaza. Trump has withdrawn almost all US aid to the Palestinians.
“Any money going to the Gaza Strip and intended for infrastructure could easily be diverted by Hamas,” said Hagerty, who sat next to Cruz.
Where Hagerty was diplomatic, Cruz was blunt. “Appeasing terrorists does not bring peace,” he said of Biden.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When asked if he would rule out running for president, Cruz protested, replying that the 2016 campaign was “the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.”