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ICYMI: Rubio Joins I24 News
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined i24News to discuss the Biden Administration’s actions toward Iran, the future of the Israel-Hamas war, how aiding Israel differs from aiding Ukraine, and more. Watch the full interview on YouTube and Rumble and read the full transcript below.
On the freezing of Iranian funds in light of Iran’s involvement with Hamas:
“I’m glad [the Biden Administration] corrected [course]. I think they should have never released [the funds] even before this attack. There is no Hamas without Iran. All this talk about whether Iran knew that they were going to do this at 6 am on Saturdays is irrelevant to the fact that Hamas would not have the capabilities to do the things they’re doing without Iranian support.
“Even if this money hadn’t been released, this money was coming. They would have freed up other monies that they had available to them to continue to sponsor terrorism, not just for Hamas, but for ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and obviously for Hezbollah. [The Biden Administration’s reversal] is good news, and I’m glad that it’s happening, and I hope that will be a permanent move.”
On Israel’s next steps:
“Hamas has a clearly stated purpose. They don’t hide it. It’s explicit. They want to drive every Jew out of the region. They want to set up a fundamentalist Islamic Palestinian state that covers from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. That is their goal. That goal is incompatible, by definition, with the existence of the Jewish State of Israel.
“Basically, Israel is faced with an enemy that seeks their complete destruction. They don’t seek to just govern Gaza. They want Israel wiped out, and they have shown that they are willing to massacre babies, and kidnap and abduct teenage girls, and kill their families, and slaughter and butcher. When a group has done that, you have no choice but to eliminate them and severely degrade them to the point where they can’t come back and ever do that in the future.
“Embedded in all this, by the way, is that Hamas wants to become the dominant Palestinian faction in the region. They want to be the top dog, and all of this they view – these murders, this hostage-taking – as things that increase popular support for them at the expense of whichever rivals they’ve defined, whether it’s the Palestinian Authority or others.
“There is no way that the dominant Palestinian faction in the region can ever be a group that is willing to do what we saw them do just the other day and continue to do, and now, as cowards, run back into Gaza and not just hide behind civilians, but actively encourage civilians not to get out of harm’s away, and in many cases potentially impede them from getting out of harm’s way.
“It is an unfortunate situation. I don’t know what other options Israel has at this point but to do everything it can to make this a non-visible group. And I don’t think the United States has any choice but to be on Israel’s side of this fight against pure evil.”
On Qatar’s association with Hamas:
“I think the fundamental question Qatar has to answer is whether they want to continue to be associated with a group that carried out this attack. All these people hide behind statements. If you notice very carefully, none of them say, I support the slaughter of innocents. What they say is, we are in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
“Not every Palestinian is a member of Hamas or even a supporter of Hamas. But those statements [are] a little bit of wordsmithing. What they’re actually saying is, we know this is really bad, so we don’t want to be associated with it, but we also understand that these groups are popular in the streets of our country. Unfortunately, that happens to be true in many of these nations.
“There’s much they can do behind the scenes to ensure that they don’t continue to harbor and support these elements who use them for cover…. The people conducting and directing these organizations, they’re not on the ground in Gaza with no water and no electricity. They’re living in other parts of the world and putting out tweets from there.
“So, I do think there’s a conversation to be had with these nations that we have strategic relationships with about what they are willing to do to eradicate this group. I don’t think it serves the interest of any of these nations to have Hamas emerge as the dominant Palestinian faction in the region.”
On the need for Israeli funding:
“Defense cooperation with Israel is very different than it is with Ukraine, for a number of reasons. We don’t start off at a baseline of zero. I passed a law as part of the Defense Authorization Act that authorizes already $3.3 billion dollars a year of defense cooperation with Israel. That’s already a law. That’s already there. It’s already ongoing. And in many cases, the munitions that Israel will need for resupply, they’re already in a pipeline. They’re already ordered.
“Where we can help is to get the contractors to expedite delivery of some of these. We also have prepositioned material inside of Israel. It’s been publicly reported, and it’s there not just for if Israel needs it, but for if we ever got to a regional conflict and quickly had to be resupplied….
“I believe Hamas needs to be wiped out, but it’s not going to be easy. Urban warfare [conducted by] a nation that is going to rely on reservists, many of whom just got off a flight 48 hours ago – flying in from Miami, where I live, planes were full of reservists reporting for duty – it’s not [easy]. Urban warfare is difficult with groups that have tunnel systems and are willing to conduct long-term insurgency-type campaigns. As that develops, the material that Israel may need to resupply on might be different than what’s anticipated.
“I think you’ll find all the support you need in Washington, and we’ll have the mechanism to deliver it. I think what’s important is that we understand that the baselines are already there. The authorities are already there. At some point, if more is needed – and it probably will be – we’ll need to know exactly what that is, and I don’t think there’ll be any impediments to getting it done.
“I hope that it can be kept separate from these other debates. I’ve been a supporter of helping Ukraine, but I don’t think that the two should be mixed, because they’re two very different cases.”
On Donald Trump’s allegedly anti-Israel comments:
“I didn’t hear the comments. I don’t know the context in which they were said…. It’s surprising, and I’d like to hear an explanation, because I don’t think, in a moment like this, that it’s certainly helpful. It’s also not consistent with the positions that the Trump Administration took.
“I don’t want to delve too much into our domestic politics on this, but I remain convinced that if Donald Trump were president today, some of these attacks, some of these conflicts we’re seeing around the world, would not have happened. Because some of these entities would have thought twice before moving forward.
“That said, I’m surprised to hear that report. I certainly don’t think, on the contrary, that Donald Trump is a sympathizer or supporter of Hezbollah, and I think he has long been very supportive of Israel, irrespective of who its leader and what its democratic process was. But I don’t think comments like that are helpful if that’s the vein, in fact, in which they were made. I don’t know how they’ll be interpreted in the Middle East, but it’s certainly not my view.”
On the importance of backing Israel:
“Despite some disturbing images of people in the street supporting Hamas in the aftermath of all this, and some ridiculous stuff coming out of academia, where we have a lot of morally confused leaders of higher education – and that’s a separate problem for Americans to confront – I think most Americans and most Members of Congress are going to be against anybody who decides they’re going to go in and massacre elderly women, teenage girls, and little babies.
“I’m glad to see that that level of moral clarity still exists in our politics…. [But] this is not going to be one of these 70-hour campaigns or week deals. This is going to be messy. It’s a protracted situation. These guys are deeply entrenched inside of Gaza, and it’s not going to be easy to degrade them to an acceptable level. The real challenge is not today. The real challenge is three, four, five, six weeks from now.
“The way it is played out historically is, Israel is attacked, everyone rallies to Israel’s side, Israel does what it needs to do, and then all of a sudden, starting in Western Europe and then spreading even here in the United States, you start hearing calls of, you’ve done enough. It’s time to stop. That’s where I think the real challenge is going to come.
“I think we need to understand something very clearly. If Hamas is not eliminated, if Hamas is not substantially degraded, they will come back, and they will do this again, and they will do it worse, and other groups will look at this as an example of what they need to do, and they will do the same. We need to understand that if we don’t stop this now it won’t be 1,200 people. It could be thousands upon thousands of people that are murdered because they happen to be Jews living in Israel and are hated by these people.
“If this isn’t stopped now, it’s going to lead to more loss of life, more bloodshed. If we’ve learned anything from history, it is that if you don’t confront and defeat evil, evil will grow, evil will spread, and evil will come for you.”