Last month, the progressive think tank Data for Progress released report showing that a net majority of Democratic voters are receptive to the idea of cutting aid to Israel in order to curb their human rights violations.
These statistics certainly didn’t line up with the Beltway consensus on the issue, where it’s assumed that touching the issue could amount to political suicide. When the report was published, only two presidential candidates had floated such an idea: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who said he’d block any funding that might be used to annex the West Bank, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who has floated the idea of conditioning aid to impact Israel’s policies multiple times.
We can now add a third name to that list: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
On a Saturday, Warren said she was open to the idea of conditioning aid if Israel continued to expand its settlements:
Right now, Netanyahu says he is going to take Israel in a direction of increasing settlements, [but] that does not move us in the direction of a two-state solution. It is the official policy of the United States of America to support a two-state solution, and if Israel is moving in the opposite direction, then everything is on the table…Everything is on the table.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren: "It is the official policy of the United States of America to support a two-state solution, and if Israel is moving in the opposite direction, then everything is on the table." pic.twitter.com/GjumaLoZ9k
— The Hill (@thehill) October 20, 2019
There’s no details here, but there weren’t really for Buttigieg or Sanders either. While Warren and Buttigieg have floated the idea in response tangible developments (settlement expansion, West Bank annexation) Sanders has said that he’d have the option on the table to assure that Israel treats the “Palestinian people and that region with respect.” That’s obviously pretty vague, but it does leave open the possibility of aid being conditioned for various infractions, as opposed to just the ones identified by Warren and Buttigieg.
There’s obviously a sizable possibility that this is all just hollow rhetoric from the candidates, but it’s part of a notable shift nonetheless. In addition to public opinion seemingly shifting on the issue, there have also been recent legislative attempts to hold Israel accountable for its human rights abuses. Chief among them is H.R.2407, a piece of legislation introduced by Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum. The bill would would amend the Foreign Assistance Act so that United States’ taxpayer money would no longer be used to detain children in foreign countries, including Israel.
Shortly before leaving office Barack Obama signed a $38 billion military aid package with Israel, which is scheduled to last through 2028.
Responding to a question from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard during last week’s Democratic debate in Ohio, Elizabeth Warren answered, “So, look, I think that we ought to get out of the Middle East. I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East. But we have to do it the right way, the smart way.” The comment drew criticism from Joe Biden.