Here is what the candidates have said:
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
President Joe Biden, a Democrat seeking a second term in the November 2024 general election, said his administration’s support for Israel remained “rock solid.” He said the country had a right to defend itself.
His administration pushed back against Republican criticism of a deal with Iran by which five detained U.S. citizens were allowed to leave that country in exchange for the transfer of $6 billion in Iranian funds for humanitarian-related purposes.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said that “these funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks” and added that this was “not the time to spread disinformation.”
Former U.S. president and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump touted his own record supporting Israel, and then blamed Biden for the assault, the worst breach in Israel’s defenses since Arab armies waged war in 1973.
He falsely stated that “American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks.” The $6 billion was Iranian money that had been frozen in South Korean banks. It was earmarked for humanitarian needs, and has yet to be spent by Iran.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is a distant second to Trump in national polls for the Republican presidential nomination, also assailed Biden over the attack.
“Joe Biden’s policies that have gone easy on Iran has helped to fill their coffers,” he said in a video message.
Speaking to reporters in Iowa at the weekend, DeSantis pushed back on the fact the funds had not yet been transferred to Iran, saying that money was “fungible.” “You can use other funds that may be freed up as a result,” he said, according to media reports from the event.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, a Republican foreign policy hawk, urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “finish them” in an apparent reference to Hamas. “They should have hell to pay for what they’ve just done.” Haley also condemned the Iran deal.
Biotech entrepreneur and Republican contender Vivek Ramaswamy, who has faced criticism by supporters of Israel for previously suggesting a phase-out of aid after 2028, criticized what he called “barbaric and medieval Hamas attacks.”
Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, a longshot Republican presidential candidate who has made support for Ukraine a plank of his campaign, took aim at some of his Republican rivals, including Trump, suggesting that their Ukraine positions had signaled a weaker United States on the world stage.
“This is what happens when we have leading voices like Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Ron DeSantis signaling retreat from America’s role as leader of the free world,” he said on CNN.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, an environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist who is expected to run for the White House as a long-shot independent, condemned the “barbaric attacks.”
“We must provide Israel with whatever it needs to defend itself – now,” he tweeted.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Ross Colvin and Howard Goller)
Evan Massoud is a political analyst with a knack for dissecting policy and governance. He provides readers with informed perspectives on political developments at home and abroad. Evan’s dedication to civic engagement extends to volunteering in local politics.