WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor in support of Israel defending itself against terrorists:
“The world is relieved that Hamas has stopped firing rockets at Israel’s cities and, for the moment, the fighting has stopped.
“Israel’s response to Hamas’s terrorism was justified. It was targeted, restrained, and extraordinarily precise. So it was disappointing to see disproportionate blame heaped upon Israel, the victim… and disproportionate pressure put on Israel’s democratic, coalition government to spearhead the cease-fire with the aggressors.
“Israel’s actions appear to have helped restore some measure of deterrence and damaged Hamas’s ability to wage terror. But we have every reason to expect the terrorist commanders will seek to rebuild their arsenal, with assistance from their sponsors in Tehran.
“The Biden Administration must not pursue Iran policies that make this process even easier. We should not lift terrorism and missile sanctions just to leap back into discussions over the flawed Obama-era nuclear deal. Already, this Administration removed terrorism sanctions on Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen, hoping to encourage negotiations. Instead, the Houthis have escalated their offensive, rejected diplomacy, and fired into Saudi Arabia. Likewise, giving Iran relief from sanctions will just yield more support for terrorists like Hizballah and Hamas.
“Now, I am encouraged that the President has committed to refilling Israel’s Iron Dome stockpiles.
“I hope his budget proposal, coming Friday, will make room for increased military assistance to Israel, and reflect the fact that America’s interests are not served by cutting our own defense budget.
“Sadly, here in Congress, more and more Democrats are falling under the anti-Israel influence of the farthest-left fringe. From the junior Senator for Vermont, we have a resolution to block a routine sale of precision-guided munitions that would make it harder for Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it defends itself. From a congresswoman from New York, the accusation that Israel is an ‘apartheid state.’
“Historically, support for Israel has been bipartisan.
“During the last major flare-up by Hamas in 2014, when hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel, the Senate passed a resolution reaffirming our support for Israel and making clear Hamas’ responsibility for the violence, by unanimous consent. Back in 2019, after another rocket attack, the Democratic Leader insisted, ‘no government can allow its civilians to be subject to rocket attack.’ He said he stood, ‘shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Israel… and doing what they must to defend their homeland.’
“That was the tune in 2019. Well, this month’s attacks involved not hundreds, but thousands of rockets. And yet, instead of vocal support for Israel, 29 Senate Democrats pressured Israel’s coalition government to stop defending itself. One of our colleagues who ran for President said the U.S. helping our ally means, ‘supplying weapons to kill children.’
“Their base is energized. An open letter from hundreds of former Democratic Party and campaign staffers has urged President Biden to be harder on Israel.
“Apparently, a lot can change in two years.
“Helping Israel defend itself against terrorists shouldn’t be a divisive issue. The Senate should vote on Senator Sanders’ resolution and reject it overwhelmingly.”