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AID ARGUMENTS

Pro-Israel Senate Dems say Netanyahu’s two-state solution comments don’t impact conditions debate

“I don’t think those two are necessarily linked,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal told JI.

JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Democratic pro-Israel stalwarts in the Senate are pushing back on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau’s comments rejecting a two-state solution, even as they dismiss arguments from some colleagues that Netanyahu’s remarks are proof of the need for conditioning U.S. aid to Israel.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told Jewish Insider on Tuesday that he disagreed with Netanyahu’s comments, explaining that “a two-state solution is the best and most viable path to peace and stability in the region.”

But he dismissed remarks from some fellow Democrats suggesting that Netanyahu’s rejection of a two-state solution, and other comments from Israeli leaders hostile to U.S. policy, show that the U.S. needs to condition or restrict its aid to the Jewish state. Five additional senators signed onto an amendment conditioning aid the day after Netanyahu’s comments.

“I don’t think those two are necessarily linked,” Blumenthal said, adding that he’s “hopeful that [Netanyahu] will restate his views in a way that’s more encouraging to all of us who want to help.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told JI on Monday that he’s believes that “once we’ve gotten to a place where we have safety from Hamas, and we have a real path toward normalization in the region, two states is the only way to get there.” He added that he doesn’t think similar comments impact the debate over conditioning aid to Israel.

Another possible hiccup for the supplemental aid bill for Israel and other allies came into view on Tuesday, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressed skepticism about providing aid to the Palestinians, elevating Republican concerns about that portion of the emergency funding package.

McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor that he “cannot understand why some of my Democratic colleagues, including the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee who pushed so hard to pass legislation combating global corruption, now want to shovel billions of taxpayer dollars to one of the most corrupt entities on the planet,” referring to the Palestinian Authority. 

The PA would not be the direct recipient of U.S. aid. Democrats have insisted that humanitarian aid be part of the supplemental package.

McConnell also condemned Democrats’ “renewed fixation with rushing to a two-state solution” and accused them of suffering from “Bibi Derangement Syndrome.”

During a press conference yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) did not offer a firm commitment to allowing amendment votes on the supplemental package on the Senate floor.

“We will give members time to review the text before we go to the floor, that’s for sure,” Schumer said at a press conference. “As for amendments and how to deal with the floor, Leader McConnell and I will have to work that out once we come to an agreement.”

Janine Kritschgau, a spokesperson for Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), one of the lead sponsors of that amendment, told JI that Kaine “will continue to push for his amendment, which continues to garner growing support from his colleagues.”

Senate negotiators have suggested that the text of their deal on border policy could be ready by the end of the week; that had, to this point, been the major obstacle in moving forward the supplemental bill.

Separately, a group of 44 House Democrats, including progressives and pro-Israel moderates — many of them members of the House Intelligence Committee — wrote to the administration  on Tuesday criticizing Israeli leaders’ opposition to a two-state solution. They asked the administration to provide a strategy for building international, Israeli and Palestinian support for a two-state solution.

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