Pro-Israel Groups Split on Sen. Rand Paul's Defund PLO Legislation

Pro-Israel Groups Split on Sen. Rand Paul's Defund PLO Legislation

Following the recent reunification of the Hamas and Fatah Palestinian groups into one unity government, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) publicly stated the United States must immediately halt aid to the new governing body. Shortly thereafter, Senator Paul announced legislation, titled the “Stand With Israel Act of 2014,” that insisted any further aid to the Palestinians must come under the condition that the unity government first recognize Israel’s right to exist.

“I am deeply disappointed and disturbed by the Senate’s inability to stand with me in defense of Israel today. My support will not waiver, and I hope the United States Senate will prevail in cutting off American aid to those that refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Senator Paul said after his bill failed to garner unanimous consent.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) came out against the legislation shortly after its announcement. One AIPAC insider told Fox News, “We believe the law currently on the books is strong and ensures that aid is contingent on key conditions that help maintain America’s influence, keep Israel secure, and advance the peace process.”

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post echoed AIPAC’s sentiments. Her article Friday, titled “Rand Paul’s phony pro-Israel bill,” challenged the Senator’s intellectual grasp on the Arab-Israeli conflict. “The real Rand Paul, whose knowledge is paper thin, attacks critics, accusing AIPAC of not being interested in defending the Jewish state,” she said.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has come out in support of Senator Paul’s legislation. “We praise Senator Paul’s initiative on defunding the PA in the absence of a commitment by the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” said ZOA President Morton Klein.

Commentary editor Jonathan Tobin said in a mixed review of the Senator’s proposal, “It’s time to start holding the PA accountable for its behavior. What’s too bad is that Paul, of all people, seems to be the only one ready to do so.”

In 2011, Paul called for an end to all foreign aid, including towards Israel. With his previous rhetoric in mind, it has lead some to suggest the Senator is predominantly interested in cutting any U.S. foreign aid, to Palestine or otherwise, whenever the opportunity arises to do so.

The United States disburses foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority to the tune of about $500 million a year.

The U.S. is also the primary funder of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency For Palestinian Refugees in The Near East (UNRWA), contributing almost $300 million in 2013. Despite its purported mission as a humanitarian organization, UNRWA has drawn recent attention not for its humanitarian relief efforts, but rather for its alleged ties to radical Islamist activities. UNRWA-funded sites have been linked to activities such as harboring suspected terrorists and smuggling militant weapons through its ambulances into Israel. Videos such as “Camp Jihad” have exposed UNRWA facilities as predominantly focused on preaching radical Islamist sentiments to Palestinian grade school children.