Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Sunday warned Iran against escalating the Israel-Hamas war, which has killed thousands of Israelis and Palestinians.
“I want to applaud President Biden for his strong statement and support of Israel. I just got off the phone with the Israelis. Their goal is to destroy Hamas in the south and try to save as many innocent Palestinians as possible to prevent escalation north from Hezbollah,” Graham said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”
“Here’s my message: If Hezbollah, which is a proxy of Iran, launches a massive attack on Israel, I would consider that a threat to the state of Israel existential in nature.”
Graham said he will introduce a resolution in the Senate to “allow military action by the United States in conjunction with Israel to knock Iran out of the oil business.”
“Iran, if you escalate this war, we’re coming for you,” he added.
Graham also announced a trip with a bipartisan group of senators to Saudi Arabia and Israel in the coming days.
“The drive to peace and normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel continues,” he said. ‘There’s a desire by both parties to move forward in this effort to normalize relationships. Israel is talking about humanitarian aid. They’re going to turn the water on in the South.
“All Palestinians are not the same. If Hamas is destroyed, Israel is safer, and the pathway to peace between the Palestinians and the world gets wider,” he added. “So I start this morning somewhat optimistic that Iran’s goal to destroy the peace process between Israel and Saudi Arabia will fail.”
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will join the trip to Saudi Arabia this week, said a source directly involved in the planning.
Graham called for the U.S. to “go after Iran” if the Israel-Hamas war escalates at a news conference with faith leaders in Columbia, South Carolina, late last week.
“If this war escalates, if there’s an attack by Hezbollah against Israel in North, if the hostages begin to be killed by Hamas, if American soldiers are attacked in Syria in Iraq, we should go after Iran,” he said Friday. “It is time they pay a price. If this war escalates, then we should destroy the ability of the Iranians to finance terrorism in the future.
“They’re an oil-based economy,” he said. “Without oil revenue, they stop being the largest state sponsor of terrorism. To Iran, it is your decision to make. Choose wisely.”
The Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group has occasionally exchanged fire with Israel across the country’s northern border after Hamas’ surprise attack. The Israel Defense Forces on Saturday said it had struck a Hezbollah target in southern Lebanon in response to the “infiltration of unidentified aerial objects into Israel.”
Some Republicans, including candidates running for the GOP presidential nomination, have blamed the Biden administration for Hamas’ attack.
Several have suggested, without evidence, that the administration’s prisoner exchange with Iran this year is funding the attack. The administration informed Congress last month that it had issued a waiver to give Tehran access to $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue that U.S. sanctions had blocked, according to a State Department document sent to Congress and obtained by NBC News.
The Biden administration quickly rejected GOP arguments that U.S. taxpayers are funding the $6 billion in oil revenue that Iran regained access to recently.
“All of the money held in restricted accounts in Doha as part of the arrangement to secure the release of 5 Americans in September remains in Doha. Not a penny has been spent,” Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson tweeted.
“These restricted funds cannot go to Iran — it can only be used for future humanitarian-related purposes. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and misleading.”
Source: NBC News