Fetterman rejects Harris suggestion that Israel could face consequences for Rafah invasion: 'Hard disagree'


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Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pen., lashed out at Vice President Kamala Harris for suggesting that the U.S. could impose “consequences” on Israel if the country moves forward with an invasion of Rafah.

Fetterman made the statement on X in reaction to an interview Harris gave with ABC News on Sunday. She stated that it would be a “huge mistake” for Israel to carry out an offensive without U.S. approval.

“Hard disagree,” Fetterman wrote in response. “Israel has the right to prosecute Hamas to surrender or to be eliminated.”

“Hamas owns every innocent death for their cowardice hiding behind Palestinian lives,” he added.

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Fetterman has emerged as one of Israel’s staunchest allies in the Senate in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre.

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Meanwhile, relations between President Biden’s administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government continue to fray. Netanyahu has vowed that an invasion of Rafah is imminent, with or without U.S. approval.

Harris explicitly left the possibility of consequences for Israel on the table in her Sunday interview. She cited the dense civilian population around Rafah and argued they have nowhere else to go.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pen., lashed out at Vice President Kamala Harris for suggesting that the U.S. could impose “consequences” on Israel if the country moves forward with an invasion of Rafah. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake,” Harris told ABC. “Let me tell you something: I have studied the maps. There’s nowhere for those folks to go.”

“We’re going to take it one step at a time, but we’ve been very clear in terms of our perspective on whether or not [an invasion] should happen,” she added.

“Are you ruling out that there would be consequences from the United States?” ABC reporter Rachel Scott pressed. 

“I am ruling out nothing,” Harris said.

Kamala Harris

Vice President Kamala Harris declined to rule out “consequences” for Israel if it moves forward with an invasion of Rafah in Gaza on Sunday. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Rafah lies on the border with Egypt, which – like other nearby Arab nations – has so far refused to accept any Palestinian refugees, even temporarily.

Representatives for those countries argue by and large that Palestinians should not be forced to leave Gaza.

Many Arab states in the region are actively blocking Palestinians from traveling out of Gaza, by refusing to issue visas to Palestinian passport holders. Each of those countries underscores the point that they do not want to be complicit in a forced evacuation. They speculate that Israel will not allow those who leave to return, despite comments by Israel’s foreign minister and others to the contrary.

Tents near Rafah, Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to send an Israeli delegation to Washington this week to determine whether a compromise can be made regarding Rafah, pictured above. (Reuters/Maxar Technologies)

Netanyahu agreed to send an Israeli delegation to Washington this week to determine whether a compromise can be made regarding Rafah.

Israel says Rafah is the last remaining stronghold of Hamas and the terrorist group’s forces there must be defeated for Israel to meet its war objectives. Israel vowed to destroy Hamas following the group’s Oct. 7 attack, which killed some 1,200 people, took 250 others hostage and triggered the fierce Israeli air and ground offensive in Gaza.

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Rafah now serves as shelter for roughly 1 million Palestinians displaced by the Gaza war, however. The Biden administration has insisted that any plan for an invasion must include clear and robust protections for civilians, and they have yet to be satisfied with Israel’s precautions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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