Israel, now in its fourth day of war, has stepped up airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and sealed it off from food, fuel and other supplies in retaliation for a bloody incursion by Hamas militants on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the House is without a speaker after Gaetz led the effort to oust Kevin McCarthy—and accused McCarthy of making a deal with the White House during funding negotiations to bring forward legislation to help fund Ukraine in its war against Russia.
In an appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday, Gaetz denied that lawmakers were “incapable” of aiding Israel because Congress had come to a standstill following McCarthy’s removal as speaker.
Citing legislation passed in 2020 which provides $3.3 billion in annual aid to Israel, Gaetz said: “The reason we have this multi-billion-dollar commitment each and every year to Israel is because we want Israel to have a qualitative military edge over everyone in the region. They have that edge.”
Gaetz also expressed support for the continued aid on X, formerly Twitter.
Israel “is on autopay per the Senator’s wise legislation,” Gaetz wrote in responding to a post from Sen. Marco Rubio. “They have a qualitative military edge for good reason. They will crush Hamas.”
But Gaetz and other Republicans in the party’s hard-right flank have been pushing for the U.S. to stop all aid to Ukraine for its fight against Russia.
He introduced the “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution” in February, supported by several other Republicans, to halt all military and financial aid to the country in February.
“America is in a state of managed decline, and it will exacerbate if we continue to hemorrhage taxpayer dollars toward a foreign war,” he said at the time.
“We must suspend all foreign aid for the War in Ukraine and demand that all combatants in this conflict reach a peace agreement immediately.”
MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones wrote in a blog post that “the GOP’s foreign aid charade has just been exposed.”
Gaetz and other Republicans “have threatened to shut down the federal government over aid to Ukraine,” Jones noted. “In other words: MAGA GOPers are willing to grind the government to a halt to stop Ukraine aid, but say aid to Israel should continue no matter what.”
He added that it was difficult not to see the matter as “indicative of GOP love for Russia, as well as a matter of Republicans choosing whom they want to protect from military might.”
Aiding Ukraine, Jones noted, means “arming a fight against Russia, which MAGA GOPers evidently don’t want. But aiding Israel, in this case, means arming a fight against Hamas—or, more plainly—arming a fight against Palestinians, a largely Muslim group of people who have faced derision from conservative leadership in the U.S.”
Others on social media also questioned Gaetz’s opposing stances when it comes to aid to Ukraine and Israel.
“Matt Gaetz is the kind of guy to say the Ukraine war is bankrupting American taxpayers,” one user wrote on X. “Matt is also the kind of guy to vote for money and weapons to be sent to Israel for war.”
Another user shared a clip of Gaetz on Meet the Press, adding: “A new interview of Matt Gaetz who has long ferociously fought to defund support of Ukraine and had to get the U.S. House speaker expelled to do it, is now talking about how important it is to continue the multibillion-dollar commitment of funding to Israel.”
Another responded to Gaetz: “Why should Israel be on autopay and Ukraine not? Ukraine has suffered FAR more deaths than Israel ever has in just a year and a half.”
Newsweek has contacted Gaetz’s office for comment via email.