Paul steps up call for cutting off Palestinian aid after Israeli deaths

 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday stepped up his call for the U.S. to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority, after three missing Israeli teens were found dead on Monday.

Paul made the call in an op-ed published Tuesday night in National Review, writing that U.S. taxpayer money should not be going to "an entity kidnapping and murdering Israeli and U.S. children."

One of the three missing teens had dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pinned blame for the deaths on Hamas, which has denied involvement. The Palestinian Authority has formed a new government with Hamas, which the U.S. brands a terrorist organization.

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Paul has proposed the Stand with Israel Act to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians. He is widely seen as a 2016 presidential contender, and his backing of this bill could help counter charges by more hawkish Republicans that Paul is too isolationist and not sufficiently supportive of Israel.

Paul also criticized the Obama administration's handling of the situation.

“Remember, the Obama administration did not respond to these murders by calling for Palestinian/Hamas aid to be cut off,” Paul wrote. “Instead, they called for ‘restraint.’ The Obama administration chose to lecture Israel instead of punish the perpetrators.”

President Obama’s statement on the deaths condemned them as a “senseless act of terror.” He also called for “all parties to refrain from steps that could further destabilize the situation.”

A 2013 Congressional Research Service report says that since 2008, U.S. aid to Palestinians has averaged around $500 million a year, including direct budgetary assistance and “non-lethal security assistance.”

The report notes that, “Because of congressional concerns that, among other things, U.S. aid to the Palestinians might be diverted to Palestinian terrorist groups, the aid is subject to a host of vetting and oversight requirements and legislative restrictions.”

Paul ended his op-ed with a forceful call for the passage of his bill. “I asked for unanimous consent to pass this bill weeks ago,” he wrote. “I will do so again next week. Whoever wants to come down to object will need to explain to the parents of these teenagers why the United States of America is funding their murderers.”

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