Skip to Content

Stefanik calls for wiping Hamas ‘off the face of the Earth’ and touts Trump policies in speech to Israeli Knesset


By Aileen Graef and Avery Lotz, CNN

(CNN) — House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik delivered remarks at the Israeli Knesset Sunday, saying victory for Israel in the war against Hamas starts with “wiping” those responsible for the October 7 terrorist attacks “off the face of the Earth” and calling for a return to former President Donald Trump’s policies.

“Total victory starts, but only starts, with wiping those responsible for October 7 off the face of the Earth. There can be no retrievable dignity for Hamas and its backers,” she said in her speech in which she called herself a “leading proponent and partner” to Trump and sharply criticized the Biden administration.

The New York Republican, who is considered a potential vice-presidential pick for the presumptive GOP nominee, has been outspoken in the House over reports of antisemitism on college campuses, earning attention for her grilling of university presidents. Her speech makes her the highest-ranking House Republican to address the Israeli governing body since the October 7 attacks, according to the GOP conference.

“When the enemy is inside the gates of the United Nations, America must be the one to call it by its name and destroy it. President Trump understood that,” Stefanik said.

“But you know as well as I that the enemy is inside more than just the gates of the United Nations. It is also in powerful Western institutions in my country and beyond, where the virus, the vile virus of antisemitism is spreading. This is why total victory means not just physical self-defense but ideological self-defense,” added Stefanik, who claimed that pro-Palestinian protesters on college campuses who are calling for a ceasefire in the conflict are “cosplaying Hamas.”

In a rare instance of a member of Congress publicly criticizing the American president to a foreign government, Stefanik went after Biden, saying there is “no excuse” for his administration blocking military aid to Israel.

“I have been clear at home and I will be clear here: There is no excuse for an American president to block aid to Israel — aid that was duly passed by the Congress,” Stefanik said.

The Biden administration has paused the shipment of some bombs to Israel, citing opposition to the weapons being used in the densely populated areas of Rafah. But it has also begun the early stages of a process to move ahead with a new $1 billion arms deal for Israel.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement Sunday, “There has been no better friend to Israel than President Biden.”

“He was the first American president to visit Israel during war time – in the aftermath of the horrific October 7 terrorist attacks – and the first president to order the US military to defend Israel from a foreign nation’s attack. As he has demonstrated, President Biden’s support for Israel’s security is ‘ironclad,’” Bates said.

“Unlike some figures on the right, President Biden did not rail against the Israeli government in the days after October 7, nor has he ever praised terrorist organizations like Hezbollah – and he will not be lectured by any person who was silent in the face of those offensive statements,” Bates said in reference to statements from Trump, who called the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah “very smart” and said that Israel “was not prepared” for October 7 in an interview with Fox News days after the attack.

Biden said for the first time publicly earlier this month that he would halt some shipments of American weapons to Israel — which he acknowledged have been used to kill civilians in Gaza — if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a major invasion of Rafah.

“We’re not walking away from Israel’s security. We’re walking away from Israel’s ability to wage war in those areas,” Biden said in an interview with CNN at the time.

Stefanik attempted to paint a contrast between the White House and the House GOP, telling “Fox News Sunday” after her speech, “The world is looking for moral leadership … and it’s important that House Republicans step up to fill that void.”

“One of the main focuses of my speech was that the American people stand strongly with Israel, as do House Republicans,” she told Fox, applauding the House-passed, GOP-led bill that would prevent Biden from withholding, halting, reversing or canceling weapons transfers from the US to Israel already approved by Congress.

Asked about civilian deaths in Gaza — where more than 35,000 people have been killed, according to the enclave’s health ministry — Stefanik pointed to Hamas’ use of “civilian shields.”

“Israel has great respect when it comes to human rights,” she said, “and that’s how they have conducted all of their operations, that’s why the United States stands strongly with Israel.”

Human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes and abuses during the war in Gaza. The Biden administration said in a State Department report to Congress earlier this month that it is “reasonable to assess” that US weapons have been used by Israeli forces in Gaza in ways that are “inconsistent” with international humanitarian law, but it stopped short of officially saying Israel violated the law.

CNN’s Michelle Shen contributed reporting.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo



KVIA ABC 7 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content