In 1948, the United States was the first country to recognize Israel as an independent state. Over the ensuing decades, Congress has worked to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship, ensuring Israel’s safety and advancing America’s national security while building economic, cultural, and political ties between our two democracies. With growing instability across the Middle East and especially on Israel’s borders, as a member of Congress I would continue to support legislation that retains Israel’s qualitative military edge, affirms the alliance between the United States and Israel, and helps both nations address these complex security challenges.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued for too long. I firmly believe both parties must be willing to compromise to preserve Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish State as well as provide the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity. I also believe the U.S. must remain committed to achieving a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians, negotiated through direct, bi-lateral talks. This just and lasting resolution must be achieved by the Palestinians and Israelis themselves, not imposed on them by other parties or through undue influence exerted by outside groups. This view is shared by Republicans and Democrats alike in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Moreover, the U.S. should continue to fight efforts to delegitimize Israel, through boycotts, divestment and sanctions. Jerusalem, through final status negotiations, should be recognized as Israel’s capital and must remain a place where people of all faiths can safely pray and live. While Congress officially declared in 1995 that the U.S. embassy should be in Jerusalem, I am not sure the manner in which this administration has decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move our embassy there was the most prudent course of action at this time.
Foreign aid is a critical component of our nation’s ongoing relationship with Israel, and I support maintaining this robust security assistance package. While it certainly helps Israel with its own defense, a secure Israel benefits America’s international security concerns through cooperation in intelligence, homeland security, missile defense, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism.
Conflicts across the Middle East present shared challenges to Israel’s security and American diplomacy in the region. In particular, Iran continues to pose a long-term destabilizing threat. Recognized by the U.S. State Department as the leading state sponsor of global terrorism, Iran’s Islamic theocracy supports terrorist proxies – including Hezbollah and Hamas – with arms, funding and personnel.
In addition to its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Iran continues expanding its aggression in the region by doubling its defense spending since 2015 and deploying Russian missile defense systems that threaten Israeli air superiority. Furthermore, Iran’s support of the Assad regime in Syria has helped create a “land bridge” from Iran through Syria, Iraq and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. This allows for the transportation of weapons and fighters throughout the Middle East and up to Israel’s border. I would support U.S. policies that diminish these
I also support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement reached in 2015 by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Germany, and Iran, and do not agree with President Trump that the U.S. should have walked away from a deal that, if vigorously enforced and implemented, verifiably and peacefully blocks Iran’s pathway to a nuclear bomb.
Iran’s continued aggression in the region, however, coupled with the JCPOA’s expirations and legitimization of Iran’s overall nuclear program mandate vigilance so that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon, and perhaps a more comprehensive, long-term strategy to ensure a durable peace.
Finally, I would encourage cultural and academic exchanges between the U.S. and Iranian people, who seem to seek better, broader engagement with the international community along the road to a more positive future for their nation.