Kamala Harris: Biden will not condition aid to Israel

Democratic VP nominee speaks to Jewish donors, says Biden administration would "sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security".

Elad Benari ,

Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris told Jewish supporters on Wednesday that Joe Biden, the presidential nominee, would not condition aid to Israel.

“Joe has made it clear he will not tie security assistance to any political decisions that Israel makes and I couldn’t agree more,” Harris said in a call arranged by the Biden campaign for Jewish donors, according to JTA.

“The Biden Harris administration will sustain our unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security, including the unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation pioneered during the Obama-Biden administration and the guarantee that Israel will always maintain its qualitative military edge,” she added.

The question about conditioning assistance came after a primary season in which a number of candidates for the Democratic nomination said they were prepared to condition aid to Israel.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s main rival before dropping out of the race, suggested in comments to the J Street conference late last year that the US should condition its aid to Israel on its changing its attitude towards Palestinian Arabs.

Biden later said that it is “bizarre” for Sanders to propose withholding US military aid from Israel if it doesn’t moderate its treatment of Palestinian Arabs.

Sanders’ comments were criticized by Nikki Haley, the former US Ambassador to the UN as well as by then-Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

A number of the former candidates who suggested leveraging aid to Israel, including Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, are now advising Biden, noted JTA.

Harris, who spoke via Zoom to the donors alongside her Jewish husband Douglas Emhoff, also repeated a pledge Biden has made to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, but also to improve it.

She faulted President Donald Trump for exiting the deal, which she said accelerated Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon, but she tacitly acknowledged the validity of some of Trump’s objections with the deal: That it allowed nuclear restrictions to lapse too soon, and that it did not address Iran’s militarism and regional adventurism.

“Our administration will hold Iran’s government accountable and rejoin a diplomatic agreement if Iran comes back into compliance,” she said. “And we will work with our allies, of course, to strengthen and extend the Iran deal and push back against Iran’s other destabilizing actions.”