WASHINGTON – Republican and Democratic pro- Israel political players alike jumped on a new GOP senator and Tea Party favorite for calling for US aid to Israel to be cut.
In an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN this week, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said the US should cut all foreign assistance to plug the deficit, including Israel aid.
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“It is shocking that Senator Paul wants our nation to renege on our commitment to a vital ally, which is necessary to assure Israel’s continued qualitative military advantage in a dangerous region,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (New York), the ranking Democrat on the appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations, referring to America’s 10-year signed commitment to give Israel close to $3 billion each year in aid.
“A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a staple of our foreign policy for more than 60 years. Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable,” she said.
The Republican Jewish Coalition defended Paul’s stance on trimming the budget but disagreed with his desire to cut Israel aid.
“We share Senator Paul’s commitment to restraining the growth of federal spending, but we reject his misguided proposal to end US assistance to our ally Israel,” RJC Executive Director Matthew Brooks said. “We are heartened to know that, with very few exceptions, congressional Republicans understand and appreciate the importance of this alliance to America's national security. And we are confident that few - if any - of Senator Paul’s Republican colleagues will cosponsor a plan that reneges on an agreement with a critical ally.”
Brooks also raised questions about Paul’s “grasp of the fundamentals of our alliance with Israel,” based on his comments to Blitzer. “Any concern that US assistance might undermine Israel’s security is groundless.”
When Blitzer asked about continuing aid to Israel, Paul replied, “When you send foreign aid, you actually [send] quite a bit to Israel’s enemies, Islamic nations around Israel get quite a bit of foreign aid, too.”
He was apparently referring to aid to countries such as Egypt, which receives money as part of the peace treaty it signed with Israel in 1979.
“I don't think funding both sides of the arm race, particularly when we have to borrow the money from China to send it to someone else, we just can’t do it anymore,” he said.
A bipartisan group of members of Congress on Thursday also called on President Barack Obama to pledge the US will veto a pending UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
“We are deeply concerned about the Palestinian leadership’s decision to reject the difficult but vital responsibility of making peace with Israel through direct negotiations, and instead to advocate for anti- Israel measures by the United Nations Security Council and other international forums,” the wrote the legislators, who included Majority Leader Eric Cantor (RVirginia), Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) and HFAC Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-California).
“Substantively, the resolution before the Security Council is without merit,” they said. “We respectfully request that the United States oppose this Palestinian approach publicly and strongly, including through the use of our veto at the United Nations Security Council. The Palestinian Authority must be reminded that any path towards statehood must be negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians, not imposed.”