Bipartisan letter to press administration over Iran, Qatar and Turkey support for Hamas

A letter seeking accountability for nations that support Hamas began circulating on the Hill on Thursday and has picked up nearly 50 signatories

Cem Tekkesinoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

ISTANBUL, TURKIYE - SEPTEMBER 22: Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh speaks to press at the Basaksehir Cam and Sakura City Hospital in Istanbul, Turkiye on September 22, 2023.

A draft House letter with nearly 50 signatures so far is set to urge the administration to hold Iran, Qatar and Turkey accountable for their roles in funding or otherwise supporting Hamas.

The bipartisan effort, Jewish Insider has learned, is being led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Claudia Tenney (R-NY). The letter began circulating on Thursday.

The letter, addressed to President Joe Biden, is set to “urge the Administration to take all necessary steps to cut off Iranian funding sources.” It will further state that “the United States must also put significant pressure on Qatar and Türkiye to cease their support for Hamas and expel Hamas leadership that they host,” according to excerpts obtained by JI.

JI was not able to review the draft letter in full.

The letter comes as bipartisan scrutiny of Iran’s role in supporting Hamas has accelerated on Capitol Hill. On Thursday, amid growing bipartisan pressure, the administration told lawmakers that it would re-freeze the $6 billion in Iranian funds recently unfrozen as part of a hostage deal. 

Hamas’ massive attack on Israel has also fueled criticism of Qatar and Turkey’s roles in supporting the terror group, and calls for the two U.S. partners to turn over the Hamas leaders who have long lived in their countries. Some lawmakers have been hesitant, however, to push for punitive action against the U.S. allies.

Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Katie Porter (D-CA), who are both running for California’s Senate seat, both praised the decision to freeze the Iranian funds in statements to JI on Thursday. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the third major candidate for the seat, did not respond to a request for comment.

Schiff said he “strongly support[s]” the administration’s decision.

“As we work to determine whether Iran had any foreknowledge of the Hamas terrorist attacks or is now assisting Hamas in its further brutality against the people of Israel, it should not receive a dime of this funding,” he continued.

Porter said it’s “entirely appropriate” to freeze the funds “given Iran’s long-standing relationship with Hamas.”

“I applaud the Biden administration’s decision to reevaluate Iran’s ability to withdraw these funds and urge the use of every available tool to disrupt Iran’s support for terrorist organizations that threaten peace and security in the region,” she said.

More than 100 House Republicans also backed a bill to re-freeze the money.

Also on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and 14 other Senate Republicans wrote a letter to the administration demanding answers and documents from the administration over the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation into Iran, and questioning why the administration has not called for a formal censure of Iran for its defiance of IAEA oversight.

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