US Republican Senator Rand Paul on Monday has blocked efforts to fast-track a bill that would have provided $1 billion of funding for Israel’s Iron Dome weapons system, The New Arab website reported.
US Senators were seeking to “hotline” the bill, meaning that 100 senators would agree to allow the bill to be taken straight to a vote on the floor.
Paul, who has frequently opposed foreign aid, blocked this action, saying that he would change his mind if the money were to come from the proposed aid to Afghanistan.
The Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, one of the greatest critics of foreign aid in Washington, argued that the Iron Dome funding should come from proposed assistance to Afghanistanhttps://t.co/VIC4Vubjv5
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) October 4, 2021
“The billion dollars under consideration today is on top of the more than 1.6 billion the US has already given for Iron Dome,” the senator said.
“And that’s not all. The US provides Israel with just under $4 billion in aid annually. To date, the United States has provided over $146 billion in aid to Israel. In addition to Iron Dome, the US has helped Israel fund other missile defense systems as well,” he continued.
While supportive of Israel and its Iron Dome system, Rand says that funding for the program should be taken out of a $6 billion package that has been earmarked for use in Afghanistan.
“I think the American taxpayer dollars that pay for it should come from money that could go to the Taliban,” said Paul. “That money, I think, could be spent on the Taliban, if we do not rescind that money.”
In one more hurdle for Iron Dome, Rand Paul refuses to fast-track $1 billion in new funding https://t.co/20f6BZ0XT4
— Lara Friedman🔥 (@LaraFriedmanDC) October 1, 2021
Senator Menendez rejected these assertions, insisting that the money was not being sent to the Taliban, but was to be used in ongoing efforts to get US allies out of Afghanistan.
The controversial bill was originally held up in Congress for ten days when progressive Democrats blocked the funding, pointing to Israel’s brutal May assault on Gaza and continued attacks on Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank.
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was one of those leading efforts to block the bill, later chose to abstain from the vote, drawing the ire of many pro-Palestinian activists who branded her a “hypocrite”, the New Arab noted.
US groups supportive of Israel were quick to admonish Paul for blocking the spending bill.
“Iron Dome is a matter of life and death for Israelis and Palestinians, and Senator Paul, true to form, is treating the replenishment of this vital system as a political game,” Christians United For Israel founder Pastor John Hagee said.
Ocasio-Cortez Posts Letter Responding to Accusations of ‘Cowardice’ over Israel Vote https://t.co/jAzzO7cJ2W
— Joe Catron (@jncatron) September 25, 2021
Further criticism was cast at the Kentucky senator by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
“Today, Rand Paul joined Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Thomas Massie in not supporting emergency funding for Iron Dome,” the group tweeted.
Israel’s Iron Dome weapons system was used frequently to counter rockets from Gaza during the last May’s conflict, when Israel launched a deadly assault on the besieged strip, killing over 250 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women. Palestinians in Gaza have no air defenses to protect them from Israeli air raids.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)