THE U.S.-ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP
America has had a unique relationship with the state of Israel from its very creation. I’m proud of, and deeply influenced by, my grandfather’s leading role in the establishment of the state of Israel. When he was Vice President, he pushed Franklin Roosevelt – unsuccessfully – to publicly endorse a Jewish homeland. As a key cabinet member under Harry Truman, he pushed a skeptical Truman on the issue of Israeli statehood. And after leaving the cabinet and running for president himself, he played a leading role in the establishment of the United Nations, under whose aegis the state of Israel was created, setting the stage for Truman’s recognition of it.
Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and a key ally in an unstable region. She is a pivotal trading partner and a key strategic ally against terrorism and weapons proliferation. It is a universal truth that cooperation in the areas of defense and counter-terrorism have enhanced the security of both nations, but the U.S.-Israel relationship is also built on an unshakable commitment to shared democratic values and interests.
This relationship has personal importance to me; I have numerous cousins who are Israeli citizens or dual U.S./Israeli citizens with a deep commitment to long-term peace in the region. If elected to Congress, I am committed to working to further enhance our relationship with Israel and working with my colleagues to support that shared goal.
I am proud that the U.S. has consistently stood with Israel over the past seven decades, providing billions of dollars in bilateral aid annually and championing regional negotiations for peace and stability. As Israel’s strongest and most dependable ally, the U.S. has a special obligation to provide bilateral assistance. A significant portion of the annual aid that Israel receives from the U.S. is reinvested in the U.S. economy through the creation of jobs and joint research and development projects. The technology and knowledge that is gained from these investments are invaluable to the counterterrorism and security of both Israel and the United States.
I am committed to continuing this partnership and support. That means helping to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region, continuing implementation of the 2016 memorandum of understanding on security assistance, and continuing that conversation as necessary. I also support direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority, for collaboration with Israel on security in the West Bank, as has been successful in the recent past; we can be strong, smart and humanitarian at the same time. Additionally, I believe the United Nations has a supportive role to play and an ability to assist in defending Israel’s safety and security.
MILITARY SECURITY & COUNTER TERRORISM
Israel unequivocally has the right to defend itself and keep its people safe against threats from both military aggression and terrorism. That is the most fundamental and sacred responsibility of any free nation, and the right of any free people. America has a special obligation to help safeguard Israel’s security, and continuing to do so is in our mutual best interest. Hamas continues to use Gaza as a launchpad for attacks and Hezbollah continues to threaten Israel with rockets and terrorists from Lebanon and elsewhere.
I will support U.S. aid for immediate threats to Israel’s national security, with missile defense systems like Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow II and III, joint military exercises, strategic planning, counter-terrorism cooperation and information-sharing, collaboration between our intelligence agencies, and maintaining a U.S. military presence and radar protection for Israeli security. We must also support continued collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli officials responsible for the security of the West Bank. But it is clear to me that, ultimately, the best protection for the people of Israel is a negotiated two-state solution allowing Israel and Palestine to live peacefully side-by-side.
I see no alternative to a two-state solution. The U.S. is in a unique position of leverage to bring together Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as Jimmy Carter did with the leaders of Israel and Egypt, and Bill Clinton did between Israel and Jordan, and Israel and the PLO. The status quo is unstable and becoming more polarized, with Hamas on the rise and the Palestinian Authority fading.
I support a peace process arising from direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, because long-term peace requires more than just physical border security. Israel has to be recognized as a Jewish democratic state alongside a non-militarized Palestinian state. The United States certainly has a role to play but it should be facilitation of a peace process, not setting pre-conditions. The continued construction of settlements does complicate the prospects for negotiating secure and stable borders.
THE CAPITAL OF ISRAEL
Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for three millennia, approved by Congress as the site of the U.S. Embassy more than two decades ago. What’s unfortunate is the way the Trump administration executed the move, precipitously, politically, using the occasion to stoke partisan and evangelical divisions in the U.S. and violent conflict in Israel, rather than as a component or marker of broader peace negotiations.
I firmly oppose the BDS movement, which is hostile to Israel and incompatible with any balanced approach to a two-state solution. I expressly disavow the BDS grants which were made in the past by my family’s foundation, the Wallace Global Fund. They were made at the initiative of another board member, from discretionary grant funds not controlled by me. I am unequivocally pro-Israel, pro-peace and pro-democracy.
IRAN SECURITY THREATS
The Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was an imperfect and time-limited cure for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but I believe it offered the best possible opportunity to slow down Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. I view the Administration’s recent decision to violate our commitment and withdraw from the JCPOA as precipitous and dangerous.
Iran’s destabilizing behavior goes beyond nuclear activity. Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and a broader threat to regional security and instability. I would prefer to have strengthened and expanded upon the existing nuclear deal by including ballistic missiles and addressing Iran’s non-nuclear aggression in the region. A nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable, and a diplomatic outcome remains the best and most enduring solution.