DeSantis spars with Haley over Gaza comments

DeSantis spars with Haley over Gaza comments

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida on Monday rejected criticism from Republican presidential rival Nikki Haley of remarks he made about Palestinians over the weekend.

In an interview with NBC’s Dasha Burns published on Monday, DeSantis dismissed Haley’s criticisms as her “trying to be politically correct.”

“She’s trying to be politically correct. She’s trying to please the media and people on the left,” he said. “I don’t care about that. I’m gonna speak the truth and let the chips fall where they may.”

The comments come as Republican candidates have criticized the Biden administration in the wake of Israel’s war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has been designated by the U.S., Britain and the European Union as a terrorist group.

In a surprise attack on Oct. 7, Hamas militants stormed out of the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,200 Israelis and abducting dozens more, while firing rockets at cities including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel has since hit back by commencing a siege of Gaza and firing its own barrage of retaliatory missiles, killing hundreds of Palestinians.

At a campaign event in Iowa on Saturday, DeSantis said that the U.S. should not accept any refugees from Gaza and that the Palestinians in Gaza “are all antisemitic.”

Haley, a former governor of South Carolina who also served as U.N. ambassador in the Trump administration, said on Sunday that “half of Palestinians” don’t want to be governed by Hamas.

“There are so many of these people who want to be free from this terrorist rule,” she said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They want to be free from all of that. And America has always been sympathetic to the fact that you can separate civilians from terrorists.”

When confronted about the remarks and Haley’s rebuke, DeSantis said he was simply “defending the truth” and pointed to efforts by Hamas to “teach the kids to hate Jews.”

The row between the two candidates also comes as Haley has seen her stock rise as a GOP alternative to former President Donald Trump, the current frontrunner in the 2024 Republican primary. DeSantis and Haley have each tried to court the same pool of conservative donors. Haley has also seen her polling improve in early states as the DeSantis campaign has stumbled in recent weeks.

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