Ocasio-Cortez criticizes Netanyahu, says Democrat caucus considering changes to US policy on Israel
WASHINGTON – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, calling him “a Trump-like figure.” In an interview to the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast, she added that Netanyahu’s re-election is a part of “the ascent of authoritarianism across the world.”
Asked if she believes that Netanyahu’s talk about annexing parts of the West Bank should affect the US policy towards Israel, the congresswoman responded: “I think so,” and said that “conversations are happening in our caucus.”
She also gave a surprising answer to the question if she’d support a move to cut military or economic aid to Israel when answered: “I think it’s certainly on the table.”
Last Friday, four of the most active supporters of Israel among House Democrats issued a rare public statement Friday, warning from a possible move by Israel to annex the West Bank.
The four, Rep. Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations; Rep. Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Ted Deutch, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism; and Rep. Brad Schneider, signaled that Democrats would oppose annexation, creating a potential future confrontation between the Israeli government and pro-Israel Democrats in Congress.
“As strong, life-long supporters of Israel, a US-Israel relationship rooted in our shared values, and the two-state solution, we are greatly concerned by the possibility of Israel taking unilateral steps to annex the West Bank,” the four wrote. They reaffirmed their support for the two-state solution and called for direct negotiation.
Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said in an interview Friday night that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s talk about annexing parts of the West Bank won’t heart President Trump’s upcoming peace plan.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he thinks that Netanyahu’s vow to annex the West Bank might hurt the pursuit of peace, Pompeo responded: “I don’t. I think that the vision that we’ll layout is going to represent a significant change from the model that’s been used.”
He added that “we’ve had a lot of ideas for 40 years; they did not deliver peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Our mission set is to put forward a vision. Ultimately, the Israelis and the Palestinian people will have to make this – resolve this for themselves.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in interviews during the last days of his reelection campaign that he will consider annexing parts of the West Bank after the elections. The White House remained silent on that issue so far.
Pompeo did not provide new details about the plan, but told Tapper that the administration’s vision to peace is “different” and “unique,” and that it would be a vision “that tries to reframe and reshape what’s been an intractable problem that multiple administrations have grappled with, multiple administrations in Israel as well. We hope that we can get to a better place. Everyone wants this conflict resolved. We want a better life for the Israelis without this conflict, and we certainly want a better life for the people of – the Palestinian people, both in the West Bank and in Gaza.”
Last week, Pompeo refused to endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing Wednesday regarding the State Department 2020 budget request, Pompeo expressed hope that the upcoming peace plan would create the conditions in which Israelis and Palestinians could solve the conflict but did not provide any specifics.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America pushed back after Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks. “We are pleased Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recognizes she is NOT a leader on Israel in Congress,” the organization said in a statement. “We recommend she engage with Dem leaders Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, & Congressman Ted Deutch before contemplating the future of US military aid to Israel. US-Israel ties must supersede politics.”
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