EXCLUSIVE: Former Vice President Mike Pence slammed the Biden administration for attempting to create a “false equivalency” between Israel and Hamas, saying he and former President Donald Trump “set the table for lasting peace and an end to the decades-old conflict in the region,” but that President Biden has offered “weakness and ambivalence” as violence continues.
Pence, in a video address first obtained by Fox News Tuesday, through his new policy and advocacy organization Advancing American Freedom, called Israel “America’s most cherished ally.”
“We witnessed four years of progress toward peace, now shattered by more than a week of unprovoked violence against the people of Israel,” Pence said.
The former vice president said the Trump-Pence administration’s “commitment to Israel was unrivaled,” while claiming the new administration’s “failures” in the region have invited Hamas’ aggression.
“We made that clear to the world through our actions,” Pence said, referring to the administration’s brokering of peace deals in the Middle East, the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, and the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing it as “the capital of the state of Israel.”
“But from the moment President Biden took office, all that changed, and the results have reignited violence,” he said. “Weakness arouses evil.”
“Instead of seeking peace through strength, President Biden has offered weakness and ambivalence and, tragically, our friends in Israel are paying a terrible price,” Pence said, saying Biden restored funding to the Palestinian Authority and signaled a willingness to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
“Every tepid statement uttered by the Biden-Harris administration is built on a false equivalency between Israel and Hamas,” Pence said. “One is a sovereign nation with a legitimate government, and a trusted ally. The other, an internationally recognized terrorist organization that has now fired more than 3,000 rockets at Jewish families and business in the past week alone.”
He added: “There is no moral equivalency between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.”
Pence said 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.”
“The Trump-Pence administration set the table for lasting peace and an end to the decades-old conflict in the region,” Pence said. “President Biden has replaced strength with weakness, moral clarity with confusion, and loyalty with betrayal.”
Pence added: “In the midst of these unprovoked attacks, let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and if the world knows nothing else, let the world know this: America stands with Israel.”
A Pence aide told Fox News that the former vice president made multiple visits to the region during the Trump administration, developing a “deep relationship” with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The aide said Pence made “extensive efforts to broker peace deals” in the Mideast, which the aide says puts him “in a unique position to inform the American people of the Biden administration’s failures in the region.”
Biden, on Monday, expressed his support for a cease-fire during a call with Netanyahu.
Over the weekend, Biden conveyed “the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel and affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist attacks,” noting that Hamas has fired “more than 3,000 rockets” into Israel amid the ongoing conflict.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, has launched a sustained rocket campaign targeting civilian areas in Israel; in response, Israel directed heavy artillery and airstrikes into Gaza, killing at least 180 people, including 55 children and 33 women. Over 1,200 people have been wounded. Eight people in Israel have been killed, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier.
The White House, this week, said every action the administration takes is “with the objective of reducing violence and bringing an end to conflict on the ground.”
“The prism we are making all our decisions through is how we can help to bring an end to violence and de-escalate the situation on the ground, and our calculation, at this point, is having those conversations behind the scenes, weighing in with our important strategic partnership we have with Israel and other countries in the region is the most constructive approach we can take,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
She added: “Our approach is through quiet, intensive diplomacy and that is where we feel we can be most effective.”
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The White House also maintained that “the only way” to bring an end to the violence “is for there to be a two-state solution over time.”
“We share a view that a two-state solution is the only way to bring a lasting end to the violence,” Psaki said, while noting it is unclear, at this point, who in the administration would broker those negotiations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.