Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that foes of his efforts to cut Palestinian aid are behind media reports claiming that he wants to cut off aid to Israel.
The controversy goes back to a 2011 interview in which Paul argued that foreign aid should come after domestic debt crises. “We can’t just borrow from our kids’ future and give it to countries, even if they are our friends…. I think they’re an important ally, but I also think that [Israel’s] per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world,” he told ABC back then. “Should we be giving free money or welfare to a wealthy nation? I don’t think so.”
Last night on Fox, while stumping through Iowa, the potential 2016 presidential contender stressed he’s “never targeted Israel for any aid cuts, never voted to cut any aid to Israel.”
Paul unsuccessfully tried to get his Stand with Israel Act through the Senate last month by unanimous consent, a bill that would stem the flow of aid to the Palestinian Authority if it maintains its ties with Hamas.
“And the interesting thing is I spent the last two months trying to cut aid to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and people seem to be trying to create their own story here,” the senator told Fox. “But I’ve been on the Senate floor three times in the last two weeks challenging the Democrats to say, you know what, Hamas should not get any foreign aid. That’s the real story here. Anything else really that’s being brought up is someone trying to create a story.”
Paul, who voted for extra funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system before Congress left for the summer recess, said he’s never voted for any amendment to specifically defund Israel.
“I think it’s misinterpreted. I’ve had votes and budgets that would have reduced overall foreign aid. Some people have interpreted it, saying this is to deny aid to Israel, when, in fact, my inclination and my propositions have always been to strengthen our ties to Israel. So really people misinterpret it. I think foreign aid — we don’t have enough money to continue foreign aid to everyone all the time,” he said.
“But I’ve said repeatedly, I think we ought to start with the countries that are burning our flag, the countries who hate us. I’ve been to Israel. I don’t see anybody there burning our flag,” Paul continued. “So really, I’m for slowing down the aid, saying we don’t have enough, attaching conditions, making sure Hamas never gets any aid. All I’m asking is for some of these outlets that are unfriendly outlets, that they would report the truth, that I have spent a lot of time trying to reduce aid to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. And if they report otherwise, they’re reporting something truly not accurate.”