Presidential Election Cheat Sheet: Rand Paul and Israel

“Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” (Deuteronomy 1:13)

Randal Howard (“Rand”) Paul represents the state of Kentucky in the US Senate. A medical doctor, Paul is the son of former congressman Ron Paul from Texas and is a candidate for the Republican nomination for presidency.

Here are his stances on a range of issues of importance to Israel:

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Senator Paul does not support any particular solution to the conflict but instead says it is up to Israel to decide. During his visit to Israel in 2013, he told Times of Israel, “I didn’t come, and am not going away thinking I know the grand solution — one state, two states. Really, ultimately, those are your decisions. Those are not my decisions to make, and America shouldn’t dictate them to you.”

Regarding Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, Paul said it was “none of my business” on where Israel decided to build. “If you ask me about whether or not you can expand a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, I would tell you it’s none of my business,” he stated. “I think you’re right to be offended by US politicians telling you where you can build and where you can’t.”

Paul has said that his form of diplomacy would be based on recommended suggestions to improve the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. During his 2013 trip, for example, the senator suggested increased economic cooperation between the two groups, which he hopes will bring “incremental change.”

Iran

Paul has come out against the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. In a July Facebook post, he said that the deal is “unacceptable,” explaining that: “1) Sanctions relief should be given only after evidence of compliance. 2) The deal leaves Iran with significant nuclear capacity. 3) Iran will be able to purchase advanced weapons.”

Paul added that he would “prefer to keep the interim agreement in place instead of accepting a bad deal.”

The Kentucky senator was also a signatory of a letter written last March by Senate Republicans to the leaders of Iran, emphasizing that US President Barack Obama does not have the final say in ratifying the nuclear deal. In a later interview, Paul explained,  “I also signed onto the letter because I want the president to negotiate from a position of strength, which means that he needs to be telling them in Iran that ‘I’ve got Congress to deal with.’”

However, he criticized the president for not working with Congress while negotiating the deal. “Instead of stiff-arming Congress, I would go to Congress and engage them,” Paul said. “He needs to come and sell it to Congress, individually, member by member.”

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US-Israel Relations

Rand Paul is a self-described supporter of Israel but has been criticized for flip-flopping on his foreign policy initiatives that would greatly impact Israel.

On his campaign website, Paul wrote, “I’m proud to support Israel, America’s longtime friend and ally in the Middle East.” Rand also proposed a bill called the “Stand with Israel Act,” which would suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as continues to be allied with Hamas.

However, his 2012 budget proposal eliminated foreign aid to all countries, including Israel. “I’m not singling out Israel. I support Israel” Paul said. “I want to be known as a friend of Israel, but not with money you don’t have.”

During his trip to Israel in 2013, Paul explained that he would gradually cut back assistance to Israel, as compared to other countries, whose aid he would cut immediately. However, in 2014 he denied proposing any cuts to Israel’s aid, telling reporters, “I haven’t really proposed that in the past…we have never introduced [legislation] to phase out or get rid of Israel’s aid.”

When asked about foreign aid to Israel during the Fox News debate in August, Paul responded that foreign aid should only be given during a surplus. He said that Israel would be stronger without with aid from the US and suggested that America should first start by eliminating aid to its enemies.

Paul Rand’s Support of Israel

Israel’s Right to Self Defense/Security

During Operation Protective Edge last year, Senator Paul told Fox News, “I think Israel has the right to defend themselves. The attacks have been initiated by Gaza.”

He criticized Hamas for attacking Israel using “missiles that have been in schools, missiles that are launched from civilian areas…And I frankly don’t think it’s the role of America to tell Israel what they can or can’t do with regard to defending herself.”

While in Israel in 2013, Paul was part of a special presentation of the Iron Dome, which he called “very impressive.” In 2014, the Kentucky senator voted in favor of a bill that gave Israel $225 million to fund the missile defense system.



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