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Sen. Rand Paul Sidesteps Israel in Foreign Aid Discussion

But Insists 'Important Ally' Should Aspire to Self-Reliance

Jul. 8, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By BARBARA OPALL-ROME   |   Comments
Faith And Freedom Coalition Holds Policy Conferenc
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition's 'Road to Majority' Policy Conference on June 20 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is not targeting Israel in his legislative insurgency against foreign aid, yet insists the “important ally” should aspire to eventual independence from US security assistance.

“I have the same position that Netanyahu has,” Paul said of the Israeli prime minister’s 1996 call — during his first term as premier before a joint session of Congress — to wean the Jewish state from US economic handouts.

“He [Netanyahu] said that Israel should eventually become independent of that,” he said.

In a July 8 interview, the presumptive contender in the upcoming Republican presidential primary refused to share his position regarding annual amounts or terms and conditions that should shape a new 10-year deal to extend Israeli aid beyond 2017.

We’re involved in the current package [to deny] aid to Egypt, Pakistan, the Palestine Authority. This isn’t about aid to Israel,” Paul said.

He grew increasingly agitated by attempts to clarify the important and politically relevant issue of foreign aid to Israel. “You can try to make it about that, but that’s not what I’m involved in,” he added.

Paul insisted his quest to drive down Washington’s foreign aid burden does not include Israel. “Israel is an important ally of ours and nothing I’ve done with regard to foreign aid has anything to do with Israel,” he insisted.

And to accent his point, he added:“Most of my actions and most of my legislative decision making has been to try to eliminate aid to countries who hate us.”

Since its US-brokered peace treaty with Egypt more than 30 years ago, Israel has consistently claimed the lion’s share of Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant aid, which Congress appropriates in an exceptional one-lump sum within 30 days of passed legislation.

Foreign Ops bills passed last month by House and Senate appropriators mandate no less than $3.1 billion in 2015 funding, more than $800 million of which Israel is allowed to convert into shekels to fund domestic research, development and procurement.

Additionally, Congress appropriates several hundred million dollars to cover joint missile defense programs. Add to that nearly $1 billion in multi-year funds for the Israeli-developed Iron Dome system now defending millions of Israelis against the hundreds of rockets launched over the past two days.

Paul clearly preferred to revert to his proposed “Stand With Israel Act,” a bid to bar presidential waivers that could circumvent congressional funding cuts to the Palestine Authority.

Speaking a day after delivering an impassioned Senate floor push for his “Stand With Israel Act,” Paul repeated calls to plug legal loopholes enabling continued funding for the Palestinian consensus government backed by Hamas.

He wholeheartedly shared Netanyahu’s contempt for the government in Ramallah forged from a deal with the US-designated terrorist organization. He insisted most Americans support his campaign for fiscal restraint and oppose “toothless restrictions” contained in current language of the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved Foreign Ops bill.

“There is no guarantee that this money will not go to Hamas,” he insisted. “Poll that question over in Israel and I’m sure the overwhelming majority won’t want American money going to Hamas.”

He added, “The whole goal of their unity government is to exploit the loopholes that will get them our money.” ■


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