Graham: 'Administration throwing Israel overboard'

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate panel advances three spending bills Trump says he will sign executive order to end family separations Trump backs narrow bill halting family separations: official MORE (R-S.C.) on Thursday said the Obama administration is “throwing Israel overboard” and Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryShould President Trump, like President Obama, forsake human rights in pursuit of the deal with a tyrant? GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system Democrats conflicted over how hard to hit Trump on Iran MORE is “bailing Hamas out.” 

On Fox News’s “Happening Now,” Graham argued Kerry should not be pushing for a cease-fire until Hamas is removed from power in Gaza. 

Graham announced he would introduce a bipartisan resolution on Thursday afternoon with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) arguing that any cease-fire should be conditioned on Israel having the ability to deal with the tunnel and rockets threats from Gaza. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will join them.

“The Congress has Israel’s back. This administration is throwing Israel overboard,” Graham said.

President Obama, however, and the rest of the administration has said Israel has the right to defend itself. As the death toll mounts in Gaza, surpassing 600 people this week, administration officials have also said Israel should do more to ensure fewer civilians are killed. 

Kerry returned to Cairo on Thursday to continue negotiations for a possible cease-fire. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Israel and the West Bank on Wednesday. 

“I imagine Israel feels like pulling John Kerry’s passport a lot. Nobody invited him over there, he went back over there. I appreciate him trying to solve problems but what he’s doing he’s bailing Hamas out. There is no moral equivalency,” Graham said. 

Hamas, he said, is setting up conditions to have their people killed by hiding rockets in schools and homes, and building tunnels under hospitals. 

“No cease-fire should be pushed upon Israel until Hamas is removed as the governing entity in Gaza. The bottom line here is Hamas's agenda is to destroy the state of Israel. So why would you want to have a cease-fire with a group of people who want to wipe you off the map? Get them out of the way and try to give the Palestinian people a new start for peace,” he said. “We’ve had cease-fires in the last four years that result in the same outcomes—Hamas rearms. To Israel, stay as long as you need to stay, go where you need to go. America and Congress have your back.” 

Graham said his advice to Kerry is to shift his focus from pursuing a cease-fire to focusing on isolating Hamas. Israel has agreed to several cease-fire proposals since this conflict started, but Hamas has violated them each time. 

Israel officially launched its ground invasion into Gaza last Thursday in an effort to destroy underground tunnels Hamas built that lead into Israel. Both sides have exchanged rocket fire for several weeks now. The majority of the deaths have occurred in Gaza, and nearly three-dozen Israelis have died.