Rep. Faso Skeptical About Palestinian Commitment to Peace
WASHINGTON – Representative John Faso (R-NY) is no stranger to the public spotlight despite recently beginning his first term in Congress earlier this year. The New York lawmaker served for 15 years in the state assembly and rose the ranks to the Ranking Member of Ways and Means Committee. He then proceeded to unsuccessfully run for both Governor and separately in a 2009 special election for House of Representatives.
Growing up in an Irish-Italian Catholic family in Long Island, Faso’s first political experience was attending a train rally for then candidate John F. Kennedy. When asked what prompted him to switch to the Republican party, Faso replied, “Common sense.”
When asked about the Middle East, Faso told Jewish Insider he is skeptical about the feasibility of a two state solution given the current realities. “In theory, it sounds good. But, in order for there to be a two state solution, there needs to be a state on the other side of Israel that is capable of actually functioning and negotiating. It was Abba Eban who famously said: ‘The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’ The Palestinians have had multiple opportunities for peace and stability and they have failed to ever take up the cause seriously.
Faso will be visiting Israel for the first time in August on a trip for freshman members sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with AIPAC. Given the increasing momentum in Congress for the Taylor Force Act, legislation that would sever US economic aid to the Palestinian Authority if they continue payments to families of terrorists, Faso signaled his support for the effort. “The PA by subsidizing the people who commit horrific crimes and subsidize the families of deceased terrorists it sends a terrible signal. I do think that we need to take action subsidies to the PA that are directly contrast to interests of peace and certainly those subsidies meet that criteria.”
While generally backing President Donald Trump’s policies, Faso expressed concern regarding trade policies calling the GOP leader’s rhetoric “distinctly unhelpful.” The Georgetown University-trained lawyer added, “I represent a district where we have 680,000 that are dependent on U.S. trade to Canada. That is much more significant to local economic employment than U.S.-Mexico trade. Yet, a lot of the rhetoric around NAFTA has been almost uniformly been targeted at Mexico and ignoring the need for us to maintain the very productive relationship with the Canadians.” Faso also noted his strong support for a recent House bill that toughened U.S. sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
Jewish Insider: Why did you decide to run for Congress?
Rep. Faso (R-NY): “I thought it was a great opportunity to contribute my country and to work on issues that I feel deeply about. National Security is one of those. I also ran because our nation is suffering under stagnating economic growth. We are growing way too slow in order to meet the needs that our country has for jobs and opportunities.”
JI: What are your thoughts about the two state solution?
Faso: “I think in theory it sounds good. But, in order for there to be a two state solution, there needs to be a state on the other side of Israel that is capable of actually functioning and negotiating. Right now, the Palestinian Authority for the last number of years I have become increasingly dubious that they have the capacity to seriously negotiate on behalf of Palestinians and to be able to enforce any kind of agreement. It was Abba Eban who said famously: “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The Palestinians have had multiple opportunities for peace and stability and they have failed to ever take up the cause seriously. So, the two state solution sounds plausible if you have another state that is a legitimate serious entity that is capable of negotiating and living up to an agreement.”
JI: If the two state solution can’t be implemented, what are your other suggestions for how to resolve the conflict?
Faso: “The main solution for Israel is to continue to be a beacon of democracy and economic opportunity in that part of the world. I think the status quo is what we are going to have to deal with until such time that the status quo changes. Because of the malign Iranian influence in that part of the world is actually drawing some of the Arab countries and Gulf States closer to Israel. Nations have interests. The national interests of the Saudis and Egyptians right now given their contest with Iran means that they will be drawn closer to Israel. There are some hopeful signs that potential for increased cooperation between Israel and some Arab states.”
JI: What is your position on the Taylor Force Act?
Faso: “The Palestinian Authority by subsidizing the people who commit horrific crimes and subsidize the families of deceased terrorists it sends a terrible signal. I do think that we need to take action subsidies to the PA that are directly contrast to interests of peace and certainly those subsidies meet that criteria.”
JI: Are there any areas where you disagree with President Trump?
Faso: “A lot of his rhetoric on trade has been distinctly unhelpful. In New York, I represent a district where we have 680,000 that are dependent on US trade to Canada. That is much more significant to local economic employment than US-Mexico trade. Yet, a lot of the rhetoric around NAFTA has been almost uniformly been targeted at Mexico and ignoring the need for us to have maintained the very productive relationship with the Canadians. I strongly supported the sanctions bill that came forth and I understand the administration wasn’t so happy about some of the snapback restrictions placed on the President.”
JI: Putting aside your political career, are there any personal sides to your life that may surprise your constituents?
Faso: “I have held office for a long time. I started in 1986 so I have kind of been out there a lot. The thing that perhaps people don’t know about is my enjoyment of cooking and one of the best times for my wife and me is when we have friends over for dinner and we are sitting on our patio at night having a nice dinner outside that we’ve made. I generally do the grilling and my wife always does the baking. She makes some extraordinary pies.”
JI: Can you please discuss your childhood?
Faso: “I grew up on Long Island. I was from an Irish-Italian-Catholic-Democratic family. My family moved out of New York City and moved to Long Island. I grew up as a Democrat. My first political experience was when I was eight years old going to a John F Kennedy whistle stop train rally on the Long Island railroad. I still have the button: Kennedy for President-1960. It was my mother who gave me the lifelong interest in politics and government.”
JI: Why did you switch to the Republican party?
Faso: “Common sense.”