Former US Vice President Joe Biden has stepped out from among the Democratic contenders in the 2020 presidential race to oppose any policy that would condition military aid to Israel upon compliance with freezing settlement activity in post-1967 territories.
Biden said the idea was “absolutely outrageous,” and called it a “gigantic mistake.”
NEWS: Here is @JoeBiden’s full response when I asked him about leveraging US aid to Israel. He strongly disagrees with idea pushed by @BernieSanders and somewhat embraced by @SenWarren and @PeteButtigieg. (Backstory: https://t.co/TrnqwUjit3) pic.twitter.com/LhCpLFprzg
— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) October 31, 2019
Biden was asked about the issue Thursday during a conversation with Sabrina Siddiqui, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, following this week’s J Street convention in Washington DC.
A number of Democratic candidates who addressed the conference firmly expressed support for attaching conditions to the military aid promised to Israel, such as suspending the assistance if the government were to annex the parts of Judea and Samaria in which Jewish communities are located.
The brouhaha over military aid to Israel began with the campaign pledge made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just prior to the September 17, 2019 elections held in Israel, that he would work to annex the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria if he were elected. As it happens, the election didn’t go that way.
In any case, American military aid to Israel for the next decade is legally promised in a memorandum of understanding signed in 2016 that plainly states the assistance cannot be suspended in connection with any policy issues. The MOU provides $3.8 billion a year in military aid, the vast majority of which is actually spent on military equipment manufactured in the United States – thus providing jobs for Americans.
Biden told The Wall Street Journal that he hoped the Democrats who made the comments about conditioning aid to Israel “had misspoke or had been taken out of context.”
Biden himself submitted a video to J Street in which he expressed his own opposition to the settlement activity, saying that it “takes us further from peace.”
The former vice president, who served eight years with former President Barack Obama, has far more experience than the rest of the candidates in the Democratic party. He is also more of a realist, having spent decades visiting Israel and speaking with military officials in the Jewish State.