Paul: Improving Lives of Palestinians Will Reduce Violence
The cards are in the hands of Israel to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by improving the daily lives of the Palestinians, Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul said on Monday.
During an appearance on CNN’s “The Lead,” Paul was asked by host Jake Tapper how he would respond as president to de-escalate tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in the wake of recent violent attacks against Israelis. “It makes me sad when I see the violence, and it seems to be a never-ending violence,” Paul first responded.
He said that while visiting Israel a few years ago, he was hoping to figure out the problems and tell the two sides how to make it better but came home disappointed. “I am a physician. I always want to believe there is a diagnosis and an answer,” the Kentucky Senator explained. “The only thing I came home understanding is that maybe there isn’t an easy answer – that there is not going to be a grand sort of bargain where all of the violence goes away.”
But part of the answer to the conflict, the Republican presidential hopeful said, is incremental change and “Israel holds a lot of the cards.”
“I don’t fault Israel at all for how they defend themselves; they have to do what they have to do. But, I think, if you want to look for incremental change over there, it’s not going to be a ‘grand’ peace process, it’s going to be incremental change, where, maybe, there’s more trade, and the West Bank is allowed a little more autonomy; maybe a little more control over the terrifies that go in and out of the West Bank,” he stressed. “Little things like that. Maybe, eventually allowing Gaza to have a port, or under the joint authority of Israel and others. But it has to be those incremental things because it’s not like somebody is going to end tomorrow the violence. But I think the incremental improvement in the well-being of all those living in the confines over there, is going to be part of the answer.”
“But it won’t ever be a complete, sharp demarcation, that this is the final solution,” he added.
When further asked whom he blames for the recent flare-up in violence? Paul said it’s “hard” for him to “know the truth” between Israel claiming its the Palestinian incitement and the Palestinians claiming it’s frustration over years of occupation. “There is probably both sides to things,” he said. “But it is not my role or the role of the president to say to Israel or to those who live in the West Bank that I know what’s best for them, that I’m going to tell them how to behave. Ultimately, peace has to come from those who live there.”
At the same time, Paul insisted that his non-interventionist voice has kept ISIS from completely taking over Syria and threatening Israel on the border.
“For example, in Syria, should we have sent all those weapons in to Islamic rebels who hate us and hate Israel, as well?” Paul asked during an interview aired Monday on Newsmax “The Hard Line” TV program. “Many of them who have said, when they’re done with Assad, they’re going to attack Israel.”
“So people need to be happy that I’m here in the Senate and that I’m providing a voice for saying, let’s not be reckless,” he said.