IL Senate Hopeful: ‘Best Path’ to Security for Israel is Negotiations, Not Weapons

Launching peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is the “best solution” to ensure Israel’s security, not just military power, a Democratic senate hopeful said on Wednesday.

“For those of us who have served in uniform, for those of us who spent our lives defending our nation, we are proud and adamant in our support of the State of Israel being able to to defend itself,” Rep. Tammy Duckworth said during a reception hosted by J Street on the sidelines of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday. “But we also know that often times the best path to a security is peace. Sometimes the best solution is not more weapons; sometimes the best solution is actually entering negotiations and find a way to work together in peace.”

The comments came a day after the publication of a bipartisan letter led by Duckworth’s opponent, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), urging Congress to approve an additional $320 million for Israeli missile defense to the final version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “Amid growing rocket and missile threats in the Middle East, it is prudent for the United States and Israel to advance and accelerate bilateral cooperation on missile defense technologies,” the group of 36 senators said in a letter to the Armed Services Committee chairmen.

The content of the letter was first reported by The Hill on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Rep. Duckworth made it clear that the candidate is a strong advocate for Israel’s security and is not opposed to funding for Israel’s missile defense. “Congresswoman Duckworth did not criticize the Senate letter,” Ben Garmisa, communications director
for Duckworth, told Jewish Insider. “As the only member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation on the Armed Services Committee, she has been a strong advocate for Israel’s security and self defense. The Congresswoman has consistently supported military aid for Israel, including voting to provide hundreds of millions of dollars for missile defense programs like Iron Dome.”

Garmisa said Duckworth would have signed the bipartisan letter if she were in the Senate.

At the event, also attended by Ohio senate candidate Ted Strickland, Duckworth slammed Sen. Kirk for seeking to undermine the Iran nuclear deal by trying to stop the sale of heavy water.

This post was updated to include Duckworth spokesperson’s comment. An earlier version of this post interpreted her comments as referring to the Senate letter on funding for Israel’s missile defense.

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