Nikki Haley calls Blankenship ‘irresponsible’ for failing to blame Iran for Hamas attack


Republican presidential nominee Nikki Haley pushed back on Sunday after Secretary of State Anthony Blanken insisted that the Biden administration had no evidence of direct Iranian involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Candidates vying for the GOP’s 2024 nomination on Saturday pointed the finger at the Biden administration for Hamas’ deadly attack against Israel. Many have asserted, without evidence, that the attack was financed by the administration’s prisoner swap with Iran. The administration notified Congress last month that it had issued a waiver to give Tehran access to $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue that had been blocked by U.S. sanctions, according to a State Department document sent to Congress. which was obtained by NBC News.

Notably, Haley, who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, did not join most of her Republican rivals in clearly blaming the Biden administration for the Hamas attack on Saturday. However, he criticized it directly in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“Do you think it was irresponsible of your competitors to make these accusations without proof or evidence?” asked NBC News’ Kristen Welker.

Haley said: “I actually think it was irresponsible of Secretary Blankenship to say that $6 billion doesn’t carry weight here. I mean, let’s be honest with the American people and understand that Hamas knows and Iran They know they’re moving money around as we speak, because they know the 6 billion is going to be released. That’s the reality.”

Haley then claimed that while she was the US ambassador to the United Nations, she had visited the International Atomic Energy Agency and heard that funds the Obama administration had approved for Iran were going to militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. were

He said that every time they get a dollar, they go and spread terrorism. “It doesn’t go to the Iranian people. It goes to terrorist attacks, and Secretary Blankenship, to say that money isn’t being moved around as we speak, is absolutely wrong.

In a separate interview earlier on “Meet the Press,” Blanken was asked if Iran had played a role in the Hamas attack, a potential historic deal to normalize ties between the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United States. and came out during the talks between Israel.

“We have nothing to show that Iran was directly involved in planning or carrying out this attack, but it is something we are looking at very carefully,” he said. . “And we have to see where the facts lead.”

However, Blanken did not rule out the idea that there could be a role in the negotiations around a possible deal to normalize relations: “It is not surprising that those who are opposed to negotiations, People who oppose Israel’s normalization of relations with its neighbors and with countries outside the region: Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

Reached for comment about Haley’s remarks, the State Department pointed NBC News to Blanken’s earlier “meet the press” remarks.

Haley also warned that the United States should view the Hamas attack as a “wake-up” call, arguing that Iran could enter the United States through the southern border.

He said: “We have an open border. People are coming through. They’re not being vetted. We don’t have to wait for 9/11 anymore.

“You also see the fact that, Kristen, America is incredibly distracted and incredibly divided, and the world is less safe when America is distracted,” he added. “And look what happened to Israel. They were waiting for them to engage, and that’s when your enemies will move in. America needs to wake up.”

The Biden administration has rejected Republicans’ argument that U.S. taxpayers are funding $6 billion in oil revenues that Iran recently regained access to.

“All money held in restricted accounts in Doha as part of the arrangement to secure the release of the 5 Americans in September has remained in Doha. Not a penny has been spent.” Treasury Undersecretary Brian Nelson Tweeted. “These restricted funds cannot go to Iran – they can only be used for humanitarian purposes in the future. Any suggestion to the contrary is false and misleading.”

National Security Council spokesman Adrian Watson also said that no money has been spent yet.

“I can’t comment on 2024 because of the Hatch Act. But I can make the facts clear: Not one cent of these funds have been spent, and when it is spent, it’s only for the Iranian people. Can be spent on things like food and medicine,” Watson wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “These funds have absolutely nothing to do with today’s horrific attacks and this is not the time to spread the word.”

(The Hatch Act limits political activity by executive branch employees.)

A senior administration official said: “The ability to use these funds in Qatar is directly related to the payment of genuine humanitarian goods – food, agricultural commodities, medicine and medical equipment – through the vetting of applications and Qatari banks and their Approved by European representatives, who are themselves bound by sanctions. Funds never go to Iran. These funds will be used solely to provide essential humanitarian aid to the Iranian people, including third-party aid. Vendors will be paid.



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