Florida Gov.said Sunday that the potential refugees from Gaza who could be looking to come to the U.S. should not be allowed into the country, and he challenged the to take the same stance.
DeSantis told "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan that Palestinians "should go to Arab countries" and that the "United States should not be absorbing those," echoing a stance he took on the campaign trail in Iowa on Saturday. After Brennan noted there are no ongoing discussions about Gaza refugees coming to the U.S., DeSantis said, "the U.S. has done similar things in the past, and so I just put my stake in the ground."
"That's where we're going to be and I think everyone running for president on the Republican side should follow suit," he added.
A former legal adviser to the U.S. Navy, DeSantis did not say how he would advise Israel's military on how they should approach distinguishing Hamas targets in Gaza and civilians. He has staunchly defended Israel since the, and said Sunday that "if there are civilian casualties" in Hamas, "that's the fault of Hamas. That's not going to be the fault of Israel."
Asked by Brennan if he believes Palestinians have a right to their own state, or whether Israel should maintain a military occupation after their planned ground invasion, DeSantis replied, "we'll see how that goes."
"[Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza] have always cared more about eliminating the Jewish state than they have about receiving their own state, and I'm not sure that's changed in terms of their outlook," he replied. "I would not push Israel to grant statehood to people that don't recognize their right to exist as a Jewish state."
The State Department has estimated 500 to 600 American citizens live in Gaza, but DeSantis did not say how he believes the U.S. should extract them or whether Israel's military should hold off on their ground invasion of Gaza until they are out.
"We would be willing to– if I was president– apply resources to be able to help any American who was either being captured or in harm's way," DeSantis said.
As Florida's governor, he signed an executive order on Thursday to allow flights to transport Florida residents in Israel back to the state. DeSantis has said those planes, carrying "hundreds of people," are expected to land sometime Sunday afternoon.
With Israel cutting off water and electricity to Gaza, DeSantis said he doesn't think Israel is "under an obligation to be providing water and these utilities" while hostages are held by Hamas. "Israel has every right to use all the pressure that they can to get those people back," he said.
On the campaign trail in Iowa on Saturday, DeSantis said no Palestinians should be allowed into the U.S., and that while not "all of them are Hamas ... they are all anti-Semitic." Some of DeSantis' primary opponents, such as former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson or former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have panned or disagreed with his stance.
On "Face the Nation," DeSantis doubled down on his comments, saying there were celebrations of Hamas' attacks in the Gaza strip and that education in Gaza teaches "kids to hate Jews." DeSantis has also repeatedly said Palestnians elected Hamas — though the last Palestinian legislative election was in 2006.
"They prepare very young kids to commit terrorist attacks," DeSantis said about education in Gaza. "So I think it's a toxic culture. But I think if we were to import large numbers of those to the United States, I think it would increase anti-Semitism in this country and I think it would increase anti-Americanism."
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on "Face the Nation" Sunday that President Biden will have "intensive engagement with Congress" this upcoming week to get a multi-billion dollar package of aid for Israel and Ukraine in their war with Russia.
DeSantis has previously criticized the approach when it comes to sending aid to Ukraine, saying it's a "blank check." When asked by Brennan if he wants a "blank check" in Israel, he said they were "two different things" and criticized Mr. Biden for not setting a "concept of victory" in Ukraine.
"I think most Republicans, or a lot of the Republicans in the Congress are going to insist on that, before they authorize additional money," DeSantis said. "Israel has never asked us to displace their responsibility ... They are not going to ask us to fight this war for them."
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