Ocasio-Cortez: I’m prepared to cut US aid to Israel

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said that cutting U.S. aid to Israel should be “on the table,” in a Yahoo! News interview on Sunday.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said that cutting U.S. aid to Israel should be considered as a means to signal American disapproval of Israeli policies. She made her remarks on a Yahoo! News podcast on Sunday.

“I think it’s certainly on the table. I think it’s something that can be discussed,” the freshman Democratic congresswoman said in response to interviewer Daniel Klaidman, who asked “Would you be in favor of reducing U.S. military or economic aid to Israel?” The interview aired on Yahoo! News’s “Skullduggery” podcast co-hosted by Mr. Klaidman and Michael Isikoff.

Mr. Klaidman’s question wasn’t entirely factually correct as all economic aid to Israel ended in 2007. Israel does, however, receive substantial military assistance from the U.S., having signed a 10-year, $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2016.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez made her comments in the context of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign pledge to annex Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“Do you think this should affect U.S. policy to the State of Israel?” Mr. Isikoff asked. “I think so,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez replied.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also suggested that Prime Minister Netanyahu was an undemocratic leader. “I think what we’re really seeing is the ascent of authoritarianism across the world. I think that Netanyahu is a Trump-like figure,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said.

The congresswoman said that she hoped “to play a facilitating role in this conversation,” but credited Minnesota Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum as someone involved in the topic for much longer.

Rep. McCollum is an outspoken critic of Israel, having accused it of “apartheid.” In 2017, she sponsored legislation to cut U.S. funding to Israel. In June 2016, according to NGO-Monitor, she spearheaded a congressional letter to then-President Barack Obama requesting that he appoint a “Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth,” claiming that “trauma [is] being inflicted on millions of Palestinian children.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez came under fire from the Jewish Democratic Council of America, which objected to her suggestion of cutting U.S. aid to Israel.

“We are pleased Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recognizes she is NOT a leader on Israel in Congress. We recommend she engage with Dem leaders Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, & Ted Deutch before contemplating the future of US military aid to Israel. US-Israel ties must supersede politics,” the group tweeted on April 15.

The Democratic party has left itself open to criticism in recent months that it is becoming anti-Israel due largely to controversial statements from its freshman class, particularly Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who has made remarks borrowing from classic anti-Semitic tropes.

President Donald Trump told reporters last month that the Democrats have become an “anti-Israel” and “anti-Jewish” party.