Republican Senator tells Jerusalem crowd it’ll be harder to be a friend to Israel if the US is “out of money.”
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, a fierce opponent of US foreign aid who is being touted already as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, said in Jerusalem on Monday that the United States is and always will be a friend of Israel, but thinks “it will be harder and harder to be a friend if we are out of money.”
Speaking to the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, Paul said it is one thing if you are giving foreign aid out of your savings, but it is something completely different if you are “borrowing from one country to give to another. You have to wonder how wise that is, and what the repercussions will be.”
Paul, who acknowledged that he will probably not see an end to foreign aid in his lifetime, said he was “all for gradualism” and would start ending foreign aid to those countries who don’t act as allies towards Israel.
The senator said that he was concerned the US was trying to win friends in the region by providing them with arms where you can have a situation down the line where Israel would have to face up against Egypt supplied with US state-of-the-art tanks.
He said that as far as aid to Israel is concerned, he is not suggesting disengagement or that the US should stop selling armaments, but said “it wouldn’t be a one-way street, it would be a sale, not a grant.”
Paul, who on a number of occasions cited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s 1996 speech in Congress saying he wanted to wean Israel off American aid, said that decent aid would be beneficial for Israel because it would retain its own sovereignty and not have to come “on bended knee” to ask US permission on a variety of issues, such as settlements.
Regarding the argument that 75% of the military aid to Israel is spent in the US and helps the US economy, Paul said the problem with that argument is that one industry is benefiting from taxes taken from 300 million people.
Paul, who arrived Sunday, is scheduled to meet later in the day with Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and visit Jordan on Tuesday for meetings with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and King Abdullah of Jordan.
He was recently selected to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and declined to say what he thought about the likely nomination of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel.
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