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US presidential hopeful Warren: Withholding Israel aid ‘on the table’

US Senator Elizabeth Warren [FlickR]

US Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren said she would halt aid to Israel if it did not stop building settlements.

The Massachusetts senator who is the current front-runner in the Democratic race said the decision would depend on whether the government ceases settlement building in the occupied West Bank, as pushing for expansion is inconsistent with the two-state solution.

Warren told American newspaper The Hill: “Right now, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] 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.”

According to a report by the Congressional Research Service published in August, Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II.

READ: US anti-occupation group questions presidential candidates on Israel

To date, the United States has provided Israel $142.3 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defence funding. Almost all US bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance.

Democrats like Joe Biden and Cory Booker and Republicans like Mike Pence and Lindsay Graham generally justify these funds by claiming that they are used to protect “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Warren is the second Democrat in this race to voice approval for cutting aid to Israel, after Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in June he could cut military aid to Israel if it unilaterally annexed the West Bank.

Senator Bernie Sanders has also backed such a move; in July after the Netanyahu government’s decision to deny Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel, he said: “The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars, is clearly an outrage.”

“If Israel doesn’t want members of the United States Congress to visit their country to get a first-hand look at what’s going on – maybe he can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel.”

READ: On eve of debate, US Senator Warren rips Trump on Iran

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