newsIsrael at War

Hamas attacks part of Tehran’s effort to stymie Saudi-Israeli peace, GOP congressmen say

“Iran and Hamas knew their vicious attack would help prevent that from happening,” Rep. Jim Banks tells JNS of peace between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh, Oct. 14, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh, Oct. 14, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.

Hamas timed its current terrorist attacks, which were reportedly planned with the input of and a green light from Tehran, to try to prevent normalization between Jerusalem and Riyadh, Republican members of Congress say.

“It should come as no surprise that Iran’s major goal with their continued support for Hamas was the collapse of the Israeli-Saudi normalization efforts,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) told JNS.

“With this past week’s abhorrent terrorist attacks, we cannot allow Iran to prevail in their attempts to shatter the Middle East,” added Lamborn, a co-chair of the Israel Allies Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I will not waver in my commitment to advancing relations between Israel and our partners in the Middle East. Now more than ever, Israel needs to know they are not alone.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) told JNS that Hamas’s attacks were meant to thwart the continuation of the 2022 Abraham Accords, which were brokered by former U.S. President Donald Trump and helped “the Middle East down a path towards peace.”

Normalization between Riyadh and Jerusalem would “strengthen Israel’s security, bring long-term stability to the region, and allow Israel and Saudi Arabia to work together to contain Iran and its terrorist proxies,” Banks told JNS.

“Iran and Hamas knew their vicious attack would help prevent that from happening. President Biden must give up on his failed strategy of appeasement and start holding the Iranian regime accountable for its crimes,” he added.

Hamas’s charter calls for slaughtering Jews, noted Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). “Article 13 explicitly rejects initiatives for peace and reconciliation and states: ‘Initiatives—and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences—are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement,’” he told JNS.

‘Not chess players’

Rep. Eli Crane (R-Ariz.) isn’t sure that the attacks were meant to disrupt Saudi-Israeli normalization.

“Perhaps, but they are antisemitic terrorists. Not chess players,” Crane told JNS. “They wake up every day thinking of new ways to do what they did. If given the chance, they would do it again. Israel has every right to defend their citizens however they see fit.”

Rep. Mike Ezell (R-Miss.) isn’t aware of evidence that Hamas aimed to disrupt Saudi-Israel normalization efforts, but told JNS that is “very possible.”

“Regardless, the path forward for America in the Middle East is clear: We must stand with Israel, work to expand the Abraham Accords, and hold Hamas and its supporters such as Iran accountable for their horrific actions,” he said.

As far as the stalling of a Saudi deal due to current circumstances, Raphael Cohen, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, told JNS that “Iran is certainly pleased with the result,”

Still, he thinks that domestic Gazan dysfunction may have motivated the attacks. “It is hard to directly attribute Hamas’s actions to Saudi-Israel normalization,” he said. “According to media reports, this has been in the planning for several years, which may have been before normalization talks took place.”

Cohen thinks it’s a matter of debate to what extent Iran directed the attacks, even though Tehran has funded and equipped terror proxy groups, like Hamas, for many years. He noted that the White House has denied having intelligence that demonstrates direct Iranian involvement.

Jonathan Schachter, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, told JNS that Saudi-Israeli normalization may depend largely on defeating Hamas. “An Israeli victory could expand the circle of peace,” he told JNS. “The Abraham Accords were built on a strong Israel and depend on a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.”

Israel’s Arab neighbors would be less enthusiastic about joining the normalization agreement if Jerusalem is not successful in achieving its aims, according to Schachter.

“It is a mistake to look at this war as only between Israel and Hamas,” he said. “It is between Israel, the United States and their Arab partners on one side, and Iran and its terrorist proxies on the other.”

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