A pro-Israel organization accused Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) of "allowing Hamas to hold a gun to Israelis’ heads" by blocking a bipartisan bill to fund Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Christians United for Israel (CUFI), one of the nation’s largest and most influential pro-Israel groups, in a letter sent to Paul's office this week and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, is pressing the senator to reconsider his opposition to a Senate measure that would immediately release U.S. funding so that Israel can replenish its Iron Dome defense system in the wake of its July conflict with the Hamas terror group.
Paul, a longtime critic of U.S. foreign aid priorities, is reportedly set to block a $1 billion Iron Dome funding measure spearheaded by Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) that would suspend regular Senate rules to immediately approve the money request. The Senate maneuver requires consent from all 100 members, so Paul’s lone opposition to the bill means that it cannot be fast-tracked for approval. CUFI, which represents more than 181,000 Kentucky residents, in its letter accused Paul of "emboldening the most virulent anti-Israel forces in Congress."
The Iron Dome funding bill passed through the House this week by a vote of 420 to 9, with Israel’s most vocal congressional opponents—including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.)—voting against the pro-Israel legislation. House Democrats on the party’s far-left flank attempted to derail Iron Dome funding, but outrage from pro-Israel groups and mainstream lawmakers ensured its passage through the House.
Paul is the only senator standing in the way of the legislation’s quick approval. The lawmaker says he does not object to U.S. funding for the Iron Dome system, which prevents Hamas missiles from striking Israeli citizens, but that he wants the $1 billion funding to be taken from a separately proposed Afghanistan reconstruction funding bill that has become controversial in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover. Paul maintains that using these Afghanistan funds would offset the cost associated with replenishing the Iron Dome.
Doug Stafford, a spokesman for Paul’s office, said the senator’s plan makes fiscal sense and ensures the Taliban will not have access to U.S. funding.
"CUFI and anyone else should be answering why the bill sponsors won’t agree to take the money for Iron Dome from the Taliban, which is what Rand is proposing," Stafford told the Free Beacon. "Apparently, they prefer to keep the money with the Taliban or borrow it from China. There is an easy path to passage of this bill."
CUFI and other critics of Paul’s stance say tying these two issues together will effectively stall Iron Dome funding and leave the Jewish state unprepared to weather Hamas’s next terror campaign.
"Funding for Iron Dome is not an academic discussion," CUFI congressional liaison David Wicker wrote. "Innocent human lives are at stake. As such, your tactics undermine the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship and the safety of innocent Israeli men, women and children living under the threat of terrorist rocket fire, as well as the many Americans who regularly visit Israel, including those from our great Commonwealth."
CUFI also accuses Paul of ignoring the will of his constituents, who, like the rest of the country, are largely pro-Israel and in favor of supporting Israel’s defense needs.
"Your constituents are pro-Israel," the letter states. "We would appreciate your unequivocal support for a purely defensive system central to minimizing the loss of Israeli life."
"Please reconsider your opposition to this life-saving aid and use your position to enable our country to support Israel in the Jewish state's effort to keep her citizens safe," the letter continues.
Published under: Israel