JI interview with Rep. Dan Donovan

Rep. Dan Donovan, the only New York City Republican in Congress and a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, shared his views on recent developments in the Middle East in a phone interview with Jewish Insider‘s Jacob Kornbluh. Donovan has been a member of Congress since May 2015 following the resignation of Michael Grimm, who is now challenging him in a GOP primary. The 11th congressional district contains the largest Jewish population that is represented by a Republican, according to a 2013 study.

On Trump’s Syria policy: “I think it’s anything but giving up on the Middle East. In the eight years in the Obama administration, I think, Israel felt they had lost their friend in America. And I think that friendship has been renewed with President Trump. President Trump realizes, as all of us do, that Israel is our number one ally in the Middle East and that their security and their safety is essential to our own… I don’t think that is any indication the United States has given up on Israel at all. Iran is always going to be an aggressor, Iran’s always going to try to destroy Israel. If you remember right after the nuclear deal was made, the Iranians were screaming for the annihilation of Israel and death for America. I think we have to understand that Israel is always going to be under a constant threat by the Iranians and that the United States has got to stand by the side of its friends – because when Israel is secure, the United States is more secure.”

On cutting U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority: “Does the Palestinian Authority need an incentive to stay at the table? I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s true or not. All I know is that if you aid somebody and allow them to use your dollars to pay the families of suicide bombers, and then you take that money away but give them something else that they’re already paying for themselves, then they could use the money that they’re using to pay for schools or roads and pay the suicide bomber families because we’re paying for their schools and roads. You have to be very careful when you’re giving aid to somebody and restrict them on their use that they abide by your restrictions, but then that frees up their own money to use it for those bad acts.”

On Democrats refusing to applaud Trump for his Jerusalem decision at the State of the Union: “I have not asked any of those members what their position is, and it could be there are people in Congress who don’t want this President to succeed at all, in anything. It very well could be that some people are also supportive of Israel selecting its own capital but don’t cheer anything that comes out of President Trump’s mouth. But to the general public, general observation as a human being, I would suspect that if you’re sitting there mute and not applauding, you’re probably not in favor of what was just said.”

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