(photo credit: Courtesy: United States Congress)
WASHINGTON -- A Republican Congress would seek to remove funding for Israel from the foreign operations budget , a GOP leader said.
RELATED:Analysis: Republicans may affect US pressure on IsraelAnalysis: Israelis, Palestinians eye US midterm elections
U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican whip and the only Jewish Republican in the House of Representatives, told JTA that a GOP-led House would seek to defund nations that do not share U.S. interests, even if it meant rejecting the president's foreign operations budget.
Cantor, of Virginia, said he wants to protect funding for Israel should that situation arise.
"Part of the dilemma is that Israel has been put in the overall foreign
aid looping," he said when asked about the increasing tendency of
Republicans in recent years to vote against foreign operations
appropriations. "I'm hoping we can see some kind of separation in terms
of tax dollars going to Israel."
Cantor's statement was a sign
that the Republican leadership was ready to defer to the party's right
wing on this matter. Some on the GOP right have suggested including
Israel aid in the defense budget, and a number of Tea Party-backed
candidates have said they would vote against what is known in Congress
as "foreign ops."
However, until now at least, the GOP leadership
has backed deferring to the executive branch when it comes to foreign
spending, albeit after it has completed budgetary negotiations with the
GOP looks set to win at least the House in the upcoming Nov. 2
elections, partly because of the recent surge in conservative activism.
pro-Israel community has always backed the president's final foreign
aid budget as a whole and strongly resisted proposals to separate
funding for Israel for a number of reasons.
pro-Israel activists see aid for Israel as inextricably bound with the
broader interest of countering isolationism; elevating Israel above
other nations might be counterproductive in an American electorate still
made up of diverse ethnic groups; and such a designation would make
Israel more beholden to U.S. policy and erode its independence.
officials before the interview with Cantor had told JTA that the
priority in January would be making the case to newly elected
Republicans for backing a holistic foreign assistance package.