Rand Paul Offers Another Pro-Israel Bill to Cut Palestinian Aid

The legislation comes on the first day of the 114th Congress and right before a meeting with top Jewish donors.

National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Add to Briefcase
Shane Goldmacher
Jan. 6, 2015, 2:15 p.m.

Rand Paul is work­ing hard to pol­ish his pro-Is­rael cre­den­tials.

Hours be­fore meet­ing on Tues­day with some of the na­tion’s most in­flu­en­tial and well-heeled Jew­ish GOP donors—in­clud­ing bil­lion­aire Shel­don Ad­el­son—Paul in­tro­duced his second bill in as many years to cut off Amer­ic­an for­eign aid to the Palestini­an gov­ern­ment.

The “De­fend Is­rael by De­fund­ing Palestini­an For­eign Aid Act of 2015” would cut off fund­ing for the Palestini­an gov­ern­ment so long as it seeks re­cog­ni­tion in the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court, ac­cord­ing to a Paul aide. The meas­ure comes in ad­di­tion to Paul’s “Stand with Is­rael Act,” in­tro­duced last year, which would end U.S. aid un­til the Palestini­an Au­thor­ity agreed to a cease-fire and re­cog­nized the state of Is­rael.

The dual meas­ures are a sign of Paul’s ag­gress­ive push to win over the pro-Is­rael hawks who have long dom­in­ated the Re­pub­lic­an Party. As Paul openly ex­plores a bid for the White House in 2016, he has been greeted with something between skep­ti­cism and out­right hos­til­ity by the pro-Is­rael com­munity, many of whom were turned off by the non­in­ter­ven­tion­ist polit­ics of his fath­er, former Rep. Ron Paul.

Paul in­tro­duced the latest pro-Is­rael bill on Tues­day, less than a week after Palestini­an Pres­id­ent Mah­moud Ab­bas moved to join the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court, a move that would open the path to press war-crimes charges against Is­rael. Paul’s bill would elim­in­ate all U.S. for­eign as­sist­ance, loan guar­an­tees, and gen­er­al aid to the Palestine Au­thor­ity so long as it seeks to join the in­ter­na­tion­al court, ac­cord­ing to the Paul aide.

Paul pre­viewed the meas­ure last night on Fox News with Greta Van Suster­en, ar­guing that it “hardly seems to me a good idea to give Amer­ic­an tax­pay­er money to a coun­try or an en­tity that is now say­ing that an ally of ours—that their sol­diers need to be in­vest­ig­ated for war crimes.”

On Tues­day night, Paul will make the same pitch in a far more in­tim­ate set­ting. He is ex­pec­ted to at­tend a gath­er­ing of the lead­ers of the Re­pub­lic­an Jew­ish Co­ali­tion at a down­town D.C. steak­house where gi­ant slabs of red meat are vis­ible through glass win­dows for pass­ersby. The group is cel­eb­rat­ing its 2014 suc­cesses—in­clud­ing the elec­tion of fresh­man Rep. Lee Zeld­in, the only Jew­ish Re­pub­lic­an in Con­gress.

The board—pop­u­lated by many of the biggest GOP donors in the na­tion, in­clud­ing Ad­el­son—has been at the epi­cen­ter of Paul’s Jew­ish out­reach, but with only mixed res­ults. Ari Fleis­cher, the former George W. Bush press sec­ret­ary and an RJC board mem­ber him­self, told Politico this week that the board would unite around who­ever emerges as the 2016 Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee. “Now, one ex­cep­tion to that would be Rand Paul,” Fleis­cher ad­ded.

As for his bill, Paul said on Fox, “I think there is a very good chance this could pass.”

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