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Pence slams Biden for 'weakness' in handling of Israel-Hamas conflict

Pence touted the foreign policy achievements of the "Trump-Pence administration" several times in the piece, using a phrase not often heard while he was in office.
Image: Streaks of light are seen as Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel
Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, on Monday.Amir Cohen / Reuters

Former Vice President Mike Pence sharply criticized President Joe Biden in an op-ed Monday, calling the administration weak for its stance on the recent violent clashes between Israel and Palestinians.

"The Trump-Pence administration opened the door to a future of peace in the Middle East founded on our strong and unwavering commitment to the state of Israel," Pence wrote in National Review. "But now Israel is enduring the worst outbreak of violence in at least seven years — a direct result of the weakness shown by the Biden administration from its first day in office."

It is Pence's sharpest criticism of the administration, particularly in the foreign policy arena, as former President Donald Trump continues to spread falsehoods about his 2020 election loss.

Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday but did not make a direct call for an immediate end to violence as the deadly conflict entered a second week. The White House said Biden "expressed his support for a cease-fire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that Israel has "a special responsibility to protect civilians in the course of its self-defense." However, U.S. officials have not called on their Israeli counterparts to alter or halt their response to Palestinian rocket fire. Israel has been America's closest Middle East ally and the largest single recipient of U.S. military aid.

Pence several times touted the foreign policy achievements of the "Trump-Pence administration," a phrase not often used while he was in office.

"Under the Trump-Pence administration, we made it crystal clear to the world that America stands with Israel," Pence wrote. "But now, President Biden has sent the world a profoundly different message. Instead of seeking peace through strength, he has invited violence through weakness."

In September, Israel signed deals to normalize ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which were brokered by the Trump administration.

The agreements — called the Abraham Accords — were signed by Netanyahu; the UAE's foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan; and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani. The bilateral agreements are full of pledges to advance diplomacy, mutual cooperation and work toward regional peace. Israel's deal with the UAE is more comprehensive, outlining 15 areas of mutual interest, including finance, trade, aviation, energy, health, agriculture and water.

But critics have argued that they do not fully address the decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Pence called on Biden to support Israel, but there is growing pressure from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for an approach that recognizes Palestinian rights.

"There is no moral equivalency between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas," Pence wrote. "President Biden and every American leader should uphold Israel's right to self-defense and condemn the terrorists of Hamas — as well as their supporters and apologists — in the strongest possible terms."