In an unexpected assault orchestrated by an Iranian-backed militant group, Israel has found itself under attack. This has prompted criticism directed at President Biden and his Middle East policies. Prominent conservative voices, including former President Donald Trump and lawmakers in Congress, have launched vigorous attacks against Biden, accusing him of bolstering both Hamas and Iran. The terrorist group's sudden offensive on Saturday morning resulted in the tragic loss of more than 200 Israeli lives, with Hamas taking numerous civilians and soldiers hostage in Gaza.
During his White House address on Saturday afternoon, President Biden chose not to directly address the criticism directed at him. However, he reaffirmed his commitment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assuring him of unwavering U.S. support. Biden emphatically stated, "Israel has the unequivocal right to defend itself and its citizens. There is no justification for terrorist attacks. In my administration, our support for Israel's security remains steadfast and resolute."
Nevertheless, the primary point of contention for many critics revolves around the prisoner exchange deal with Iran, brokered by the Biden administration in September. Under this agreement, the Biden administration pledged to release $6 billion in previously sanctioned Iranian oil revenues in exchange for prisoners. While the expectation was that these funds would be used for humanitarian purposes, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared that the money would be allocated "wherever we need it."
Victoria Coates, former Deputy National Security Advisor for the Middle East during the Trump administration, argued that releasing frozen funds and permitting Iran to sell oil would provide them with resources to finance violent activities and attacks against Israel. Coates asserted, "If you unfreeze their assets and allow them to sell oil, they channel that money into destructive actions in the region, including attacks on Israel." President Trump also condemned the attacks, labeling them disgraceful and supporting Israel's right to respond with full force.
Despite the Biden administration's dismissal of conservative objections as disinformation, critics are demanding accountability. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana asserted, "The Biden Administration must be held accountable for its appeasement of these Hamas terrorists, including the release of billions of dollars to them and their Iranian backers." However, the administration denies that any of the $6 billion has been utilized by Hamas, asserting that these funds, intended to be transferred from South Korean bank accounts to accounts based in Qatar, have yet to be spent. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson refuted the allegations, emphasizing that "not a single cent from these funds has been utilized," and any expenditure would be directed towards food and medicine for the Iranian people.
In spite of the administration's denial, conservative critics maintain their skepticism and continue to hold President Biden accountable for the attack. As tensions escalate in the region, the world anxiously observes how the Biden administration will navigate the intricate challenges of the Middle East.