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Tuberville and White House in dispute over Israel

Tuberville seemed to caution against “picking sides” because of how the situation in the Middle East could spiral. 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-AL,  is taking some heat from President Joe Biden’s administration after the senator initially stated against “picking sides” following the Hamas attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

A statement from White House spokesperson, Andrew Bates, pointed out an interview Tuberville did with WBRC and implying that Tuberville did not stand with Israel following the Hamas attacks. Tuberville seems to caution against “picking sides” because of how the situation in the Middle East could spiral. 

“This thing could really get out of hand,” Tuberville said. “People taking sides, people getting involved. The ball is in the court of President Netanyahu of Israel. He as 400-500,000 troops on the border of Gaza. He’s going to decide whether they’re going to go in or not. We’re having, late tonight, an all Senators conference and telling us really what’s going on. I’m hoping that cooler heads prevail–they don’t go into Palestine. Hopefully they get the hostages back and people start cooperating. But this has been really bad. Israel has the right to go, because they came in and they did some terrible things in their country. But the problem is—when you start picking sides in the Middle East, it could get really messy very quick.”

Bates contrasted Tuberville’s stance with Biden’s which has been unequivocally on the side of Israel. Bates also mentioned Tuberville’s military hold and states that the hold is harming the military.

“President Biden has been unmistakable throughout, saying, ‘In this moment, we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel,’” Bates said. “This all comes as Senator Tuberville single-handedly inflicts historic damage to our military, ignoring bipartisan calls for him to drop his extreme holds that are hurting chains of command – including in the Middle East – and making military families suffer.”

Tuberville has maintained a hold on military promotions since March in protest of the Department of Defense reproductive health and abortion policy. 

Oct. 13 Tuberville made a post on X saying that he stands with Israel, said Iran was involved in the war and that Biden’s administration was using the atrocities to pressure him to lift his military holds. The former football coach captioned the post saying, “We stand with Israel. Democrats stand with Iran.”

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The $6 billion in frozen assets that was Iran’s to begin with, was unfrozen last month as part of a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. In exchange for releasing five American citizens from Iran the U.S. had to free up those previously frozen funds. Several spokespeople for Biden’s administration have denied that Iran has touched the money.

While Biden continues to contemplate whether to “re-freeze” the $6 billion Republicans, including Tuberville, have continued to assert the Hamas attack was funded by Iran. 

The attack by Hamas on Israel resulted in over 1300 people killed including civilians and over 150 hostages taken. The hostages include women, elderly and children. In response Israel has bombed Gaza indiscriminately killing close to 3000 Palestinians including 1000 children according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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