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Campbell's Comments

Deputy secretary of state nominee rejects conditioning aid to Israel, discusses normalization with Saudi

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kurt Campbell said “It would not… at this time” be his advice to condition aid to Israel

National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine his nomination to be Deputy Secretary of State on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Washington.

Mariam Zuhaib/AP

National Security Council Coordinator for Indo-Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to examine his nomination to be Deputy Secretary of State on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, in Washington.

Kurt Campbell, the nominee to be the U.S.’ deputy secretary of state, on Thursday rejected the idea of placing conditions on U.S. aid to Israel, as a group of Senate Democrats are seeking to do.

“My own personal view is, and I believe that this is the view of the president and the administration, is that we are standing side-by-side with Israel in an absolutely desperate fight, that they’re facing enormous challenges, the worst terrorist attack in their history,” Campbell said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It would not… at this time” be his advice to condition aid to Israel, he continued.

Campbell added that the U.S. had made clear its concerns about Israel’s military operations in Gaza but said those conversations were best conducted directly with Israel. 

He also noted that under existing U.S. law, “all aid at some level is conditioned — we don’t just send money out the door. We go through a careful process both at the State Department and the inter-agency.” Some Senate supporters of conditions have claimed that U.S. aid would be an unaccountable “blank check” to Israel if new conditions were not imposed.

Campbell, currently the National Security Council’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, also said he believes there’s reason for optimism about the future of normalization talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“We can be carefully encouraged by some of the discussions that we’ve had to date that indicate that there still is a willingness among the key players to restart this process and continue it,” Campbell said. “Ultimately, our goal will be to entrench Israel diplomatically in the region. I believe that is in our best interests. I also believe it is in the best interest of the countries that we work with closely in the Gulf including Saudi Arabia.”

He said it’s “understandable” that the discussions are “quiet” currently but said the U.S. must work with its partners to keep dialogue alive and work to build a more stable and integrated Middle East after the end of the conflict.

Regarding Turkey, Campbell acknowledged that there are “real concerns” but there are “things that Turkey has assisted us with” as well.

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