President Joe Biden did not condemn Hamas terrorists for firing rockets at Israel on Wednesday when he was asked about the ongoing violence in the Middle East.
“Are you concerned about the violence in the Middle East, and can you talk about what conversations you have had with officials there?” a reporter asked Biden.
“My national security staff and defense staff has been in constant contact with their counterparts in the Middle East, not just with the Israelis, but also with everyone from the Egyptians, to the Saudis, to the Emirates, etc.,” Biden said. “And I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago; I’ll be putting out a statement very shortly on that. My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later.”
Biden said during the press conference that Israel had a right to defend itself from attacks, but he did not call out or condemn Hamas for their actions. However, the White House subsequently released a read-out summary of Biden’s call with Netanyahu, which did contain condemnation of the rocket attacks by Hamas.
“President Biden spoke today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” said the White House read-out.
At a different point in the press conference, Biden appeared to forget the name of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy when talking about four congressional leaders that he met with earlier in the day.
“I’m encouraged not just because of a solid meeting with um, with uh, the uh, Republican leader in the House and with, uh, with Mitch, or Senator McConnell, who I’ve known a long, long time and worked with,” Biden said.
Biden continued, “I’ve been meeting with bipartisan leaders for a long time now. I’ve met with, gosh knows how many. I mean, and there’s more than one single group. There’s bipartisan groups and made up of 10 to 20 members. There’s been groups that I met with. For example, I met with yesterday with Kyrsten Sinema. I thought that was a… And she purported and I believe her to speak for some of her friends who are both sides of the aisle about how to go forward with infrastructure.”
“So generically, I’m encouraged that there’s room to have a compromise on a bipartisan bill that solid and significant. And a means by which to pay for it without dropping all of the burden on middle-class and working class people. Look, what’s the one thing people are concerned about with the gas? Gasoline prices going up, exactly right,” he added. “And it matters if you make $40,000 a year. It matters if you’re two family person making 80, $90,000 two wage earners. It matters. And what I don’t want to do, and this will be another discussion, we didn’t get into today, is how to pay for it. And if everything is paid for by a user fee, well then the burden falls on working class folks who are having trouble. We’re getting them out of… They’re coming around, but this has to be a burden shared across the spectrum. Anyway, thank you guys.”
This report has been updated to include a portion of the White House read-out, which said Biden condemned rocket attacks by Hamas in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.