Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina warned Iran that it was risking a “three-front war” if it intervened in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, during a press conference led by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee on Tuesday.
Iran, which has longstanding ties to Hamas, warned Israel on Saturday that it would “intervene” if the country launched a ground invasion of Gaza in response to brutal terrorist attacks by Hamas, beginning on Oct. 7, that killed over 1,000 Israelis. After the Biden administration responded by freezing a $6.6 billion planned disbursement of sanctioned Iranian funds to the country, in exchange for releasing five U.S. citizens from unlawful detention, Graham and other Republican senators threatened Iran if it attacked Israel with sanctions, as well as demanded that the administration withhold the funds currently suspended. (RELATED: Bipartisan Group Of Over 100 Lawmakers Presses Biden To Be Tougher On Iran)
“We should put on the table that if there is a second front open against Israel by Hezbollah, there will not be a two-front war but a three-front war,” Graham said, referring to the Lebanese militant group that is known to be funded by Iran, which has begun hostilities against Israel following Hamas’ attack. Graham also called the alliance of Hamas and Iran a group of “religious Nazis,” and claimed that the attacks of Oct. 7 were intended “to jeopardize the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” two of Iran’s long-time rivals.
— Senate Republicans (@SenateGOP) October 17, 2023
“We should not be taking any option off the table,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota in response to a question about whether U.S. military action should be considered.
Other lawmakers attacked the Biden administration for its response to the situation, claiming that they have relented to domestic demands from left-wing Democrats regarding support for Israel. “Biden’s trip to Israel was not formally announced until Secretary of State Anthony Blinken received assurances from [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu on a formal aid package to Palestine,” said Blackburn, claiming that the idea was demanded by the “Squad,” a group of left-wing Democrats.
Blackburn announced that she would be introducing legislation to defund the United Nations Refugee Works Agency, which operates international relief programs in Gaza. “Biden has sent Hamas $730 million via UNRWA for Palestine Refugees. Yesterday, we learned that Hamas stole from that group. I’ll be introducing legislation to halt all funding,” she said.
“We need to codify the permanent freeze of $6.6 billion that was going to be made available to Iran,” Thune noted, adding that backers of the initiative would seek to do so by unanimous consent.
Some senators blamed Biden’s initial decision to release the money to Iran as the basis for its attack on Israel. “The moment the Biden admin unfroze the $6 billion is the moment that the IRGC gave Hamas the go-ahead,” said Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas.
Apart from the suspension of funds, the Senate Republicans called on Biden to reimpose the full measure of U.S. sanction power against Iran, which was also demanded by over 100 members of the House across both parties on Monday. “We must return to a posture of maximum pressure with bone-crushing sanctions,” said Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama.
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