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Biden hits Sanders on proposed Israel policy, says conditioning military aid is ‘bizarre’

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At an event in Iowa on December 7, Joe Biden criticized Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal to condition military aid to Israel. On the campaign trail, Sanders has repeatedly indicated that he would be open to leveraging aid to the country in an effort to alter its treatment of Palestinians. Sanders has also suggested that some of the aid earmarked for Israel should go toward the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“In terms of Bernie and others who talk about dealing with Zionism, I strongly support Israel as an independent Jewish state,” said Biden, “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre. I would not do that. It’s like saying to France, ’Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.”

Since Sanders floated the idea of conditioning aid, other candidates have embraced it as a potential tool to influence Israel’s actions. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has declared that he would block any funding that would be used to annex the West Bank and Senator Elizabeth Warren has stated “everything is on the table” when it comes to curbing settlement expansion.

Last month, Biden told the Wall Street Journal’s Sabrina Siddiqui that leveraging aid to Israel was a “gigantic mistake” and “completely outrageous.”

“Look, I have been on record from very early on opposed to settlements, and I think it’s a mistake,” said Biden, “And [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu knows my position. But the idea that we would draw military assistance from Israel, on the condition that they change a specific policy, I find it to be absolutely outrageous. Anyway, no I wouldn’t condition it and I think it’s a gigantic mistake. And I hope some of the candidates who are running with me for the nomination–I hope they misspoke or were taken out of context.”

In addition to his military aid comments, Biden also criticized Netanyahu in Iowa for his proposed plan to annex the West Bank. However, he reserved his most severe denunciations for the Palestinian Authority, claiming that the group rejected a peace agreement where they’d end up with “98% of what they wanted.”

“They continued to insist on baiting everyone who is Jewish, saying they would not sign a deal with a Jewish state, will not recognize one even if we have an independent nation,” said Biden.

In 2016, while Biden was Vice President, the Obama administration signed a $38 billion, decade-long military aid package with Israel. Recent polling suggests that a majority of Democratic voters now back a policy of leveraging Israel’s military aid to combat the country’s human rights abuses.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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9 Responses

  1. eljay on December 9, 2019, 2:18 pm

    “In terms of Bernie and others who talk about dealing with Zionism, I strongly support Israel as an independent Jewish state,” said Biden, “The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre. I would not do that. It’s like saying to France, ’Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.”

    Sure…if France is currently a deliberately and unapologetically colonialist, (war) criminal and supremacist state. Otherwise, Joe, you bought-and-paid-for dumbass, it isn’t.

  2. oldgeezer on December 9, 2019, 9:13 pm

    Seems more like current law and not bizarre in the slightest. While the Leahy is not applied to Israel it should be.

  3. pabelmont on December 9, 2019, 9:41 pm

    Someone should tell Elizabeth Warren (and others) that “curbing settlement expansion” (as to I/P peace and justice) is quite analogous to “curbing greenhouse gas emission” (as to averting climate catastrophe).

    Leaving existing settlements in place (instead of dismantling them as required by the toothless UNSC 465 ( http://123pab.com/blog/2011/04/What-UNSC-465-and-ICJ-7-2004-actually-say.php )) itself dooms I/P peace, at least in the two-state formulation.

    And leaving 100 years of accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — instead of taking massive, active steps to remove them — itself guarantees a steadily increasing average global temperature — even if all emissions of GHGs were immediately and permanently and abruptly terminated (curbed).

    In each case, the past bad behavior looms over the future — and in each case those who speak of a better future mostly speak only of not continuing the bad behavior, rather than of undoing the previous bad behavior; and in each case most “establishment” speakers do not even act to actualize their too-weak suggestions.

    • Keith on December 10, 2019, 11:00 am

      PABELMONT- “And leaving 100 years of accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — instead of taking massive, active steps to remove them — itself guarantees a steadily increasing average global temperature….”

      Unfortunately, our rulers have pursued the acquisition of money-power at the expense of species survival. I have concluded that we probably have already passed the tipping point and will shortly enter into runaway global warming as positive feedback loops are even now kicking in. Furthermore, current plans are for an increase in fossil fuel production, the loss of Arctic sea ice seen as an opportunity for increased trade.

      “Last year an English scientist named Jem Bendell wrote a paper that shocked many of his fellow scholars by coming out and saying what everyone knew the data pointed to but no one wanted to admit. He had devoted decades to “sustainable development,” he said, but had to conclude that “ the whole field of sustainable development research…is based on the view that we can halt climate change and avert catastrophe. By returning to the science, I discovered that view is no longer tenable,” and there was very little prospect that any kind of social change would save the world from an imminent environmental disaster and “the likelihood of near term societal collapse.” (Kirkpatrick Sale) https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/09/26/the-illusion-of-saving-the-world/

  4. James Canning on December 10, 2019, 9:14 am

    I think Joe Biden is aware that the Palestinians accept the Arab peace plan that calls for recognizing Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

    • echinococcus on December 10, 2019, 4:19 pm

      “… that the Palestinians accept the Arab peace plan that calls for recognizing Israel within its pre-1967 borders.”

      Well, that’s news. The Palestinians have not been consulted yet.
      Some ludicrous US-appointed collaborator puppets of the Zionists did accept that, true. Shorthand for that is not “Palestinians accept”. Nobody knows if they do.

  5. Misterioso on December 10, 2019, 10:01 am

    “’The idea that I’d withdraw military aid, as others have suggested, from Israel, is bizarre. I would not do that. It’s like saying to France, ’Because you don’t agree with us, we’re going to kick you out of NATO.’”

    Yet another inane Zionist grovelling comment from gutless Joe Biden. I remind him that unlike America’s relationship with “Israel,” a brutal/illegal occupier and serial/escalating violator of international law, American taxpayers are not financing France’s military.

    • Talkback on December 10, 2019, 11:34 am

      Imagine this news:
      “The United States Government announced this week that it will withhold $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel, in large part due to continued human rights abuses in the country and the failure of the Israelis to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

      Quite “bizarre”, right? Well, not really:
      “The United States Government announced this week that it will withhold $2 million in military aid to the Philippines, in large part due to continued human rights abuses in the country and the failure of the Philippines to implement the recommendations of Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law. Alston, who is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, carried out investigations in the Philippines in 2007, and issued a report in April 2008 which detailed the politically motivated killings of leftist activists there. ”
      https://www.law.nyu.edu/news/ALSTON_PHILIPPINE_AID

  6. Kay24 on December 10, 2019, 8:19 pm

    It is Biden’s loyalty to Israel, and the unwavering support to an occupier, that is so bizarre.
    Joe Biden will even wear a yarmulke, just to show his devotion to Israel that is so embarrassing.
    Sanders seems to be the only candidate who is willing to show he does not toe the zionist line.

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