Senior Republican close to Trump criticizes Biden’s arms holdup in speech to Israeli parliament

Tel Aviv, Israel — Elise Stefanik, a Republican leader in the House of Representatives who is seen as a candidate to become Donald Trump’s running mate, gave a speech to the Israeli parliament on Sunday criticizing President Joe Biden’s approach to the war in Gaza .

Stefanik, the fourth-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, is the latest of a number of American politicians from both sides of the aisle to visit Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack ignited the war in Gaza. But it is rare for such visitors to address Israel’s parliament, known as the Knesset.

During a session dedicated to combating anti-Semitism worldwide, Stefanik pledged to help “crush anti-Semitism at home and give Israel what it needs when it needs it, without conditions.”

She was referring to Biden’s decision to hold off on delivering some 3,500 bombs of up to 2,000 pounds each, and his refusal to provide offensive weapons for a long-promised Israeli invasion of the southern city of Rafah. The government fears that such an operation would plunge Gaza into an even more serious humanitarian catastrophe.

“There is no excuse for an American president to block aid to Israel that was duly passed by Congress, and there was no excuse to ease sanctions on Iran,” she said.

Stefanik, a representative from New York state and a strong supporter of Trump, is likely on the short list of his possible running mates.

In December, she interviewed university presidents during a five-hour congressional hearing on anti-Semitism on campus. Two of the university presidents, from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, resigned shortly afterwards.

“Total victory is not just physical self-defense, but ideological self-defense,” Stefanik said during the session, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s frequent claim that Israel must achieve a “total victory” in the war against Hamas.