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Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., was referring to the State Department’s Palestinian Affairs outpost in Jerusalem, which condemned the Hamas attacks while urging "all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks."
This framing clashed with U.S. policy and subsequent comments by President Joe Biden. Within hours, the outpost’s account deleted the post.
The White House made four public statements from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. that clarified the U.S.’ support for Israel and its right to retaliate. Scott made his post after 3 p.m., when these statements were available.
After Hamas infiltrated Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, killing hundreds of civilians and taking others hostage, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., blamed President Joe Biden for allowing the attack to happen.
The attack by Hamas killed upwards of 900 Israelis. By early Oct. 10, Gaza authorities had reported at least 765 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli counterattack.
"Biden’s weakness invited the attack," Scott, a Republican presidential candidate, posted on X, formerly Twitter. "Biden’s negotiation funded the attack. Biden admin wanted Israel to stand down after the attack. At this point, Biden is complicit."
Some critics called out a recent hostage-release agreement the administration negotiated with Iran, an ally of Hamas, that provided limited access to $6 billion in frozen funds. But no money has been transferred to Iran yet.
Scott’s assertion went further, saying the Biden administration "wanted Israel to stand down." That’s misleading. Scott’s claim relies on an early X post that was deleted and ignores subsequent comments from entities closer to the White House, including Biden himself, that affirmed U.S. support for Israel’s self-defense. These new comments had come by the time Scott posted on X.
When we asked Scott’s campaign for comment, they said he was referring to a post on X that was subsequently taken down by the U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, a Jerusalem-based State Department outpost.
The Office of Palestinian Affairs’ post, uploaded in the Hamas assault’s early hours, said: "We unequivocally condemn the attack of Hamas terrorists and the loss of life that has incurred. We urge all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks. Terror and violence solve nothing."
Some observers were quick to criticize the post, seeing it as a betrayal of Israel’s right to counter a terror assault. The U.S. has staunchly defended Israel since the nation’s independence in 1948. The U.S. has also sought, to one degree or another, to broker peace between Israel and its neighbors, including Palestinians.
The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, published a screenshot of the tweet, which had a 3:24 a.m. timestamp. (We weren’t able to independently verify the time zone.) The tweet’s "all sides" framing drew immediate heat from critics in the U.S., where it was still the middle of the night.
At 4:47 a.m., Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, shared the Palestinian Affairs office post, adding, "This is disgraceful and every single person involved in drafting and approving this tweet should be immediately expelled from the U.S. government."
The Washington Free Beacon quoted an anonymous State Department official who confirmed the tweet was deleted, saying it was not approved and did not represent American policy.
It’s unclear exactly when the Office of Palestinian Affairs’ tweet was taken down, and the White House did not provide PolitiFact with details. The office’s next post came at 7:12 a.m.; it didn’t include the "all sides" language.
From its first public statement on Oct. 7, the day the Hamas attacks began, the White House itself expressed a consistent message of support for Israel and its right to respond to the attacks.
In an emailed statement at 7:43 a.m. ET, National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, "The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the Government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks."
In an emailed statement at 9:39 a.m., the White House press office said, "Senior national security officials briefed the president this morning on the appalling Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. The president will continue to receive updates and White House officials remain in close contact with Israeli partners."
In an emailed statement we received at 11:06 a.m., Biden said, "This morning, I spoke with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu about the horrific and ongoing attacks in Israel. The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel. Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people. … My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering."
In public remarks from the White House televised at 2:48 p.m., Biden said, "In this moment of tragedy, I want to say to (Hamas) and to the world and to terrorists everywhere that the United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back. We’ll make sure they have the help their citizens need and they can continue to defend themselves." He added, "When I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, I told him the United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of this terrorist assault. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop."
These repeated statements contradict the assertion that the Biden administration "wanted Israel to stand down."
Under Biden, the U.S. has expressed its differences over Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Netanyahu’s efforts to overhaul the nation’s independent judiciary.
Still, the Biden administration has reiterated U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself, the Council on Foreign Relations has written. In July 2023, the U.S. supported Israel’s decision to undertake the biggest in a series of counterterrorism operations against new militant groups in the West Bank. "Biden has also criticized the unpopular and ineffectual Palestinian Authority (PA) for letting such groups go unchecked," the Council on Foreign Relations wrote.
Scott said the Biden administration "wanted Israel to stand down after the attack" by Hamas.
The statement contains an element of truth, because the State Department’s Palestinian Affairs outpost in Jerusalem posted a statement in the attack’s early hours that urged "all sides to refrain from violence and retaliatory attacks." Within hours, the post was taken down.
Scott’s claim leaves a misleading impression, however, by ignoring four unambiguous comments from the White House and Biden from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. that said the U.S. was siding with Israel and supporting its right to retaliate. Scott made his post after 3 p.m., when these statements were public.
We rate it Mostly False.
PolitiFact Staff Writer Samantha Putterman contributed to this report.
U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, deleted X post link, Oct. 7, 2023
U.S. Office of Palestinian Affairs, post on X, Oct. 7, 2023
Ted Cruz, post on X, Oct. 7, 2023
The Washington Free Beacon, "Biden Admin Deletes Tweet Instructing Israel to Stand Down Amid Hamas Terror," Oct. 7, 2023
White House, "Statement from President Joe Biden Condemning Terrorist Attacks in Israel," Oct. 7, 2023
White House, "Remarks by President Biden on the Terrorist Attacks In Israel," Oct. 7, 2023
Email interview with Nathan Brand, spokesperson for Tim Scott’s campaign, Oct. 10, 2023
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