Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is calling for new severe sanctions against Iran in response to attacks carried out by Hamas fighters against Israeli civilians over the weekend.
U.S. deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer said early Monday that Iran was “broadly complicit” in the Hamas attack on Israel over the weekend, and a spokesman for Hamas told the BBC Monday that Hamas had received support from Iran to conduct the attacks, which caught Israel Defense Forces off guard.
McConnell, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday afternoon, called on Western allies to “reimpose extensive multilateral sanctions on Tehran.”
Specifically, he called on the United States and allies to deny Iranian planes the right to fly over their territory and to “impound the shipping vessels Iran uses to circumvent sanctions.”
He also urged the United States and its allies to close Iranian banks with access to the West and “cease the Iranian operations of European businesses.”
The call for harsh new sanctions was one of four steps McConnell urged in response to the terror attacks outside the Gaza Strip that have claimed the lives of hundreds of Israelis.
McConnell said the Biden administration and members of Congress need to call out Hamas and its supporters directly and stay away from neutral language urging “both sides” to de-escalate the situation.
And he said the administration needs to move quickly to provide military aid and intelligence to Israel’s defense forces to “target and destroy” Hamas militants, whom he denounced as “savages” responsible for killing women, children and the elderly.
He said the administration should stop trying to cut the defense budget and urged Congress to pass an emergency defense spending supplemental to assist Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
And he said the United States should put more focus on the threat posed by Iran, which he called “the world’s most active state sponsor of terror.”
“The world has once again seen the face of evil. Those blessed to live in the democratic West must understand that this barbarism, like that we have witnessed in Russia’s war against Ukraine, threatens all of us. And the civilized world must offer Israel more than rhetorical solidarity,” he wrote in the op-ed published Monday afternoon.
He argued that political leaders and policymakers should “distinguish between the aggressor and the victim” and warned against “calls for ‘both sides’ to de-escalate.”
“Israel deserves the time and space to defend itself,” he wrote.
The Republican leader repeated his call for Congress to pass an emergency spending package, which House Republicans stripped out of a government funding stopgap last month.
“Congress has the opportunity this fall to provide emergency appropriations to the Defense Department so that it can assist partners like Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, as well as invest in our own military capabilities,” he wrote.
He said such a package should “include significant replenishment funding,” which allows the United States to expand and modernize its own weapons inventories and provide funding to expand the production of artillery munitions, missiles and “other essential defense technologies.”
On the subject of Iran, McConnell argued that policymakers need to do more to “recognize the deepening partnership between Tehran and Moscow,” noting the armed drones Iran shipped to Russia to attack Ukraine.
“The West should reimpose extensive multilateral sanctions on Tehran and deny Iranian planes overflight rights. Impound the shipping vessels Iran uses to circumvent sanctions. Close Iranian banks with access to the West, and cease the Iranian operations of European businesses,” he wrote.
“Treat Iranian officials like pariahs and sink Iranian naval boats that threaten international shipping,” the GOP leader added.