GOP senator challenges Biden to clarify Hamas position after State of the Union remark

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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is asking President Biden and his administration to clarify their stance on Hamas, following Biden’s State of the Union address. 

In a conversation with NBC’s Kristen Welker on “Meet the Press” that aired Sunday, Graham pointed to a line in the speech when Biden said about Hamas, “If you release the hostages, the war will be over.”

“I literally about fell out of my seat,” Graham said. “Is the president saying that if the hostages are released by Hamas, they can stay in power? That ends the conflict?” Graham noted that former President Trump, who will likely be Biden’s opponent in November’s election, “believes it’s non-negotiable when it comes to Hamas: they have to be destroyed militarily, they can’t be in charge.”

“I’m challenging the Biden administration today to clear this up,” Graham said. “You cannot allow Hamas to stay in power. You can’t allow them to have six brigades to do October 7th again.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks with members of the media while arriving in the Senate Subway during a vote at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 7, 2024. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Welker said Biden has stated in the past that he stands behind this position as well.

Graham also criticized Biden for “missing the boat” by focusing on what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be doing, and not Hamas or their backer Iran. 

“Israel is not killing American soldiers,” Graham said. “Iran is through their proxies. So I would urge President Biden to hold the Great Satan, Iran, accountable for killing soldiers in Jordan and attacking shipping. So yeah, I think he’s got it backwards.”

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State of the Union

President Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Thursday, March 7, 2024. (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP)

Graham says the United States should be “all in and helping Israel” while not saying or doing anything that would “empower our enemy.”

President Biden on Saturday said the U.S. does not have a “red line” with Israel over its actions in the war with Hamas that would leave the Middle Eastern country unprotected. 

Rockets are launched against Israel from Gaza

Rockets are fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

“I am never going to leave Israel,” the president told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart in a wide-ranging interview. “The defense of Israel is still critical. There’s no red line [where] I’m going to cut off all weapons, so they don’t have the Iron Dome to protect them.”

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Biden was clarifying a hot mic comment from Thursday night after delivering the State of the Union address in which he was caught saying he planned a “come-to-Jesus” talk with Netanyahu over his handling of the war. 

Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report. 

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