WASHINGTON - US Senator Rand Paul said he does not favor immediate cuts to defense assistance to Israel, but believes Israel ultimately would benefit from economic independence from the United States.
Paul (R-Ky.), in a conference call Wednesday marking his return from a weeklong visit to Israel, said his first priority in targeting foreign assistance would be those nations where people "burn the American flag and say death to America."
Israel, he said, has been a "great friend" to the United States.
"Something I would be in favor of would not be immediate, dramatic or draconian, it would be evolving," he said of his favoring cuts in assistance to Israel. "I'm for an independent, strong Israel that is not a client state and not a reliant state."
The Kentucky lawmaker also said it was "presumptuous" of American politicians to dictate to Israel where it should build, and that he leans toward recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, although he understands arguments that such recognition could be "provocative."