Warren says withholding aid to Israel is ‘on the table’ to curb settlements
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Warren says withholding aid to Israel is ‘on the table’ to curb settlements

Top Democratic presidential contender says Jerusalem’s policies are moving it away from a two-state solution

Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall event on October 18, 2019 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)
Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks during a town hall event on October 18, 2019 in Norfolk, Virginia. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images/AFP)

Leading Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren on Sunday indicated the US could withhold aid to Israel to force it to halt construction in settlements.

Asked during a political event in Iowa on her position on making aid conditional on stopping settlement expansion, the Massachusetts senator said “everything is on the table.

The US provides Israel with some $3.8 billion in military assistance annually.

“Right now, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu says he is going to take Israel in a direction of increasing settlements. That does not move us toward a two-state solution,” Warren said.

“It is the official policy of the United States of America to support a two-state solution, and if Israel is moving in the opposite direction, then everything is on the table,” she said, then repeated: “Everything is on the table.”

Warren is currently neck and neck with former vice president Joe Biden in polls ahead of the Democratic primaries, and has recently led in some surveys. She is seen as a more liberal, left-leaning candidate than Biden on many issues.

In June Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, ranked third in the race, said he would “absolutely” consider dangling cuts to American aid to Israel in order to pressure Jerusalem.

However Sanders also said at the time that he would not make decisions that render Israel militarily vulnerable.

Military aid packages to Israel have steadily increased since the mid-1980s, when they were first offered, and are considered a linchpin of the US-Israel alliance. Few American lawmakers have challenged the handouts. In September 2016, then-president Barack Obama and Netanyahu signed a memorandum of understanding upping the figure from $3 billion annually to $3.8 billion annually for the next 10 years, despite frosty ties between the two.

The aid package is seen in Israel as key to helping it maintain its qualitative military edge over potential threats in the region.

Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

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