update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

SD senator: ‘Where are the red lines for Hamas?’

“When Democrats do things like set red lines around an offensive operation into Rafah, they are supporting the conditions that will perpetuate this terror,” Sen. John Thune asked.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition's 2023 Annual Leadership Summit at the Venetian Convention & Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 28, 2023. Photo by Gage Skidmore.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition's 2023 Annual Leadership Summit at the Venetian Convention & Expo Center in Las Vegas, Nev. on Oct. 28, 2023. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) criticized what he called “concerning” recent statements about Israel by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. President Joe Biden speaking on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

“Last Thursday, the Democrat leader came to the floor to deliver a speech in which he took the extraordinary step of calling for regime change in Israel,” Thune said.

“Yes, the Democrat leader of the U.S. Senate—who has in the past fiercely decried the prospect of foreign interference in U.S. elections—decided to insert himself into the internal electoral politics of a sovereign nation and close U.S. ally,” he added. “It was an incredibly inappropriate moment.”

Thune added that Biden also “inserted himself into Israeli decision-making by criticizing Israel’s war plan and saying it would be a ‘red line’ for Israel to go after Hamas strongholds in Rafah, on the southern border of Gaza—in effect telling Israel that Hamas should be allowed to continue to hold this region.”

“Both the president and the Democrat leader are entitled to their personal strategic opinions and their personal opinions on Israel’s leadership,” Thune said. “What they are not entitled to is to attempt to dictate the election process or the strategic planning of a sovereign nation.”

The South Dakota senator added that he hasn’t seen the White House or the Senate majority leader issue similarly harsh statements about Iran, Hezbollah, the Houthis, Shia militias in Iraq and Syria and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

“Where are the red lines for Iran? The calls for regime change? For that matter, where are the red lines for Hamas?” he said. “Because let’s remember, that’s how we ended up here. Israel didn’t attack Hamas. Hamas attacked Israel.”

“When Democrats do things like set red lines around an offensive operation into Rafah, they are supporting the conditions that will perpetuate this terror. No other nation would accept this threat just miles over its border,” he added.

“We must not ask our longstanding ally, Israel, to make such a dangerous exception.”

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