Klobuchar at J Street: Trump chose Russia over Israel

Pro-Israel presidential hopefully Amy Klobuchar would not commit to conditioning military aid to Israel on a building freeze in the settlements but didn’t rule it out.

Amy Klobuchar speaks at the 2019 J Street National Conference (photo credit: Courtesy)
Amy Klobuchar speaks at the 2019 J Street National Conference
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON – Minnesota Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar said on Sunday that the US withdrawal from Syria is bad for Israel.
“When you think of it from an Israeli perspective, and you think of it from the perspective of our allies, once again, this president has chosen to let Russia have a lead and then has again backed away from our allies,” she said Sunday at J Street’s National Conference.
Klobuchar is known in the Jewish community for being the only of seven presidential hopefuls who in February voted with AIPAC on an anti-BDS bill, which consolidated $38 billion in defense assistance for Israel while protecting states that penalize businesses that boycott Israel. The entire caucus voted 25-22 in favor of the bill.
In February, JTA named her as the “go-to Democrat for the Orthodox.”
But while Klobuchar is not a fundamentalist on is separating church and state, she told J Street that she believes Republicans are aiming to divide and undermine bipartisan support for Israel.
“It just showed to me what Mitch McConnell is trying to do all the time: Instead of bringing people together for support of Israel on a bipartisan basis he and president Trump are always looking for those wedges, a way to do things that creates wedges, instead of bringing people together,” the senator said. “I think it has been very negative. And I’m not just talking about one vote. I’m talking about how [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s] visit was handled, as everyone remembers that.
“I’m talking about how [US President Donald] Trump has supported some of the prime minister’s moves and claims during the election that I disagreed with,” she said. “And I think all of this is resulting in a loss of support for Israel. That’s very bad. As someone that views Israel as our beacon of democracy, I think it is important that we build support in the US.”
She refused to say if she – like fellow democratic presidential hopefuls Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Elizabeth Warren – would be open to condition military aid to Israel on freezing building in the settlements. However, she did express her opposition to Netanyahu’s promise to apply Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank.
“Let me be very clear in how strongly I believe that the promise that the prime minister made during his political campaign was wrong – that he was going to annex a third of the West Bank,” Klobuchar said. “Also, the Golan Heights and what he did there, I disagreed with that. I also strongly disagreed when he, at President Trump’s urging, said that members of Congress couldn’t even visit Israel.”
She said she appreciated that J Street and AIPAC alike stood up for congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who were banned from entering the Jewish state earlier this year because they support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but that “time and time again, we’ve seen actions and words that actually hurt us for moving to a two-state solution.”