WASHINGTON – All five candidates in Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate were eager to weigh in on Israel during the first Republican event since the brutal Oct. 7 Hamas attack that incited a war in the region.
NBC Nightly News host Lester Holt asked the presidential hopefuls – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the Senator Tim Scott (RS.C.)) how they would do it. handle the current crisis if they were in the Oval Office now.
While responses largely supported Israel, several candidates stood out for their global security experience. For others – like Ramaswamy – the question highlighted major gaps in their foreign policy resumes.
Former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, came out on top when Holt asked her what she would “urge [Israeli] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu what to do: could he [have him] Consider a humanitarian pause, for example?
“The first thing I told him when it happened was, ‘finish them,’” Haley said. “They have to, one, eliminate Hamas, two, support Israel with whatever they need, when they need it; and three, make sure we bring our hostages home.”
All five Republican candidates in Wednesday’s debate were eager to weigh in on the war between Israel and Hamas. AFP via Getty Images
The fierce response contrasted with President Biden’s recent actions that pressured Israel to conduct “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza to allow for the recovery of hostages and the delivery of humanitarian aid. Netanyahu has so far refused to stop the conflict without substantial agreements with Hamas for the release of hostages.
“The last thing we have to do is tell Israel what to do. The only thing we should do is support them and eliminate Hamas,” she said. “It’s not that Israel needs the United States: the United States needs Israel. “They are the tip of the spear when it comes to this Islamic terrorism and we need to make sure we support them in that process.”
Haley also highlighted the need to hold Iran accountable for sponsoring Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East that have been behind not only the attacks in Israel but also more than 40 attacks against American service members in the region since the 17th. October.
“We need to be very lucid to know that there would be no Hamas without Iran,” he said. “There would be no Hezbollah without Iran; the Houthis would not exist without Iran; and there would be no Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq that are trying to attack our military men and women if it had not been for Iran and who was funding Iran right now.”
Nikki Haley highlighted the need to hold Iran accountable for sponsoring Hamas.REUTERS
Meanwhile, DeSantis would also encourage Netanyahu to destroy Hamas, noting that he is “sick of hearing other people blame Israel for just defending itself.”
“I would tell Bibi to finish the job once and for all with these butchers, Hamas,” he said. “They are terrorists, they are massacring innocent people. “They would fight all the Jews in the world if they could.”
“[Netanyahu] He cannot live with that threat from his country. Hamas should release all the hostages and they should surrender unconditionally,” he added.
He also took the opportunity to highlight his work to evacuate more than 700 Americans from Israel on recent flights to Florida who had been stuck in the country without flights home.
Ron DeSantis said he would encourage Benjamin Netanyahu to destroy Hamas.AP
“Biden’s negligence has been egregious. We had Floridians who were there after the attack. He left them stranded and they couldn’t get flights. So I gathered resources in Florida and sent planes to Israel,” he said. “As governor, I actually did something about it.”
Christie spoke of his concern that Israeli intelligence officials failed to detect the Hamas attack and detected Hamas’ plans until it was too late, while Scott promised that he would tell Netanyahu that Israel has his full support.
“I would say to Prime Minister Netanyahu: ‘You have the responsibility and the right to wipe Hamas off the map,'” Scott said. “We will support you, we will be there with you, we will be shoulder to shoulder.”
Chris Christie spoke about concerns that Israeli intelligence officials missed signs of the Hamas attack.AP
Additionally, Scott chided Biden and former President Barack Obama for relying too much on diplomacy when it comes to international conflicts. Specifically, he called on the United States to attack Iran, which strongly backs Hamas.
“I would tell President Biden very clearly: If you want to stop the 40-plus attacks on military personnel in the Middle East, you have to strike in Iran,” Scott said.
With far less experience than his competitors, Ramaswamy’s lack of foreign policy knowledge was on full display when it came to Israel.
While the businessman expressed feelings of support for Israel, he did not offer any clear path toward the guidance he would offer Israel. Rather, he returned to his “America First” ideas.
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a projectile towards the Gaza Strip.AP
“Israel’s founding vision was based on the idea that they don’t want to depend on anyone else’s sympathy or direction to defend themselves, so what I will say to Bibi is that Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend itself,” he said. saying. “I will tell them to smoke those terrorists on their southern border. And I will tell you, as president of the United States, I will be smoking terrorists on our southern border.”
While Ramaswamy did not definitively state that he would support sending Israel military aid or other funds to carry out its war against Hamas, he made it clear that he felt that fighting Hamas was Netanyahu’s job, not the United States’.
“That’s their responsibility, that’s how we move forward,” he said.