(CNSNews.com) – Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) indicated at the weekend that as president she would not hold back from pressuring Israel into accepting a “two-state solution” to its conflict with the Palestinians, asserting that “everything is on the table.”
Warren, one of two leading candidates in the Democratic primary, was asked by a reporter in Iowa if she would make U.S. aid to Israel conditional on a freeze to building in “settlements” – Jewish communities located in territory claimed by the Palestinians for a future state.
“Right now, [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu says that he is going to take Israel in a direction of increasing settlements,” she replied. “That does not move us toward 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,” Warren added.
“And you’d be prepared to—“ the reporter asked.
“Everything’s on the table,” she repeated, emphatically.
Israel is one of America’s top military allies, and demonstratively its closest political ally at the U.N. and other international forums. Support for Israel has been robust in both parties for decades.
Israel has not received U.S. economic aid since 2007, but it is the number one recipient of military aid.
The Trump administration has requested $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Israel in fiscal year 2020, and $500 million in missile defense aid.
Under U.S. law, Israel has been obliged to spend more than 70 percent of the FMF assistance in the United States, while the remainder could go towards equipment from non-U.S. sources, mostly Israeli companies.
Under a memorandum of understanding negotiated by the Obama administration in 2016, that arrangement is being phased out: By FY 2028 Israel will have to spend 100 percent of the FMF funding on U.S.-origin equipment.
Still, calling into question military aid to Israel has become more common this year, both on the presidential campaign trail, where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has raised the issue more than once; and off it, with outspoken lawmakers Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) doing so.
Reacting to Warren’s comment, Stand for America, an advocacy group founded by former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, tweeted, “President Obama showed weak support for Israel, our friend & strongest ally. It sounds like Elizabeth Warren would do the same.”
‘For nearly 70 years …’
The so-called “two-state solution” envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, with negotiated agreements on such contentious issues as Jerusalem, refugee return, and the fate of Jewish settlements.
During a town hall in Rock Hill, S.C. last month, Warren said the two-state solution “has been the official policy of the United States of America for nearly 70 years, and the official policy of the government of Israel.”
In fact, for more than half a century after the creation of the modern State of Israel, U.S. administrations opposed an independent Palestinian state.
The policy was only reversed in mid-2002, by President George W. Bush.
“I’m actually the first president ever to have articulated a two-state solution, two democracies living side by side with peace—in peace,” Bush would recall during his last year in the White House.
By the time the next U.S. presidential term begins – whoever is in the Oval Office – Netanyahu may well not be prime minister.
On Monday Israel’s longest-serving prime minister conceded his inability to put together a viable coalition following last month’s inconclusive election, and Israel’s president will now ask rival Benny Gantz to try to do so.
Gantz is no “dove,” and if he’s the incumbent in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem in January 2021 it’s by no means certain he will be surrendering to Palestinian leaders’ longstanding demands.
In a speech launching his campaign early this year, the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff said he would strive for peace, but also pledged to “strengthen the settlement blocs and the Golan Heights, from which we will never retreat.”
“The Jordan Valley will remain our eastern security border,” Gantz said. “We will maintain security in the entire Land of Israel, but we will not allow the millions of Palestinians living beyond the separation fence to endanger our security and our identity as a Jewish state.”
Gantz also vowed that Jerusalem “will remain forever the capital of the Jewish people and the capital of the State of Israel.”