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During Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine claimed that Donald Trump said that “we’ll only work together with Israel if they pay ‘big league’.”
Fact check: FALSE.
Donald Trump has never made the U.S. alliance with Israel conditional. Period. That part of the statement — “ONLY work together with Israel if…” — is 100% false.
As for the phrase “big league,” Trump did use those words — but not specifically in relation to Israel. He was talking, in general, about countries that America defends.
Israel is not one of them: the U.S. provides money for Israeli defense, but does not defend Israel directly.
Here is Trump’s exact quote, as reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
At a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, the Republican presidential front-runner was asked whether he believed the Israeli government should pay for American defense, as he had called for other U.S. allies, such as South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia, to do.
“I think Israel will do that also, yeah, I think Israel do — there are many countries that can pay and they can pay big league,” Trump responded.”
Later that day, Trump gave a well-received speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference.