Ron Paul - Reuters - 22.12.2011
Representative Ron Paul speaking at a Town Hall Meeting at the Historic Clinton Engines Building in Maquoketa, Iowa, December 22, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul is not anti-Israel and does not advocate Israel's abolishment as a Jewish state, a former aide told Haaretz on Tuesday.

The remarks by Dr. Leon Hadar, an Israeli and U.S. citizen, who used to be among Paul's foreign policy advisors during his 2008 presidential campaign, came a day after another former Paul aide, Eric Dondero, wrote in his blog that the presidential hopeful “wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all.”

“His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer,” Dondero added.

Responding to the column, CBS News quoted Ron Paul's spokesman Jesse Benton as saying that, "Eric Dondero is a disgruntled former staffer who was fired for performance issues."

"He has zero credibility and should not be taken seriously," Benton added.

Speaking with Haaretz on Tuesday, Hadar discounted Paul's characterization as anti-Israel, saying: "He is against Israel as I am against January. He is just against foreign aid, and does not see any reason to grant an aid to the country that is a member of OECD."

"We should remember it's the primaries, and the Republican party establishment is not happy about his popularity, because on many issues his positions run contrary to the traditional party's agenda," Hadar added.

The former aide also indicated that Rep. Paul was in favor of "economic cooperation with Israel, he was interested in the economic reforms in Israel."

"He will be glad to see the conflict resolved and he said it's the right of Israel to attack Iran if it thinks that is necessary - but it shouldn't expect the U.S. to clean the mess," he said, adding that Paul is "very familiar with Israel's history. I didn't hear his conversations with his former aide, but I personally have never heard him say anything against Israel or the Jews."

Referring to claims according to which Paul was in favor of "handing Israel back" to the Arabs, Hadar said it was "absurd to say he is more supportive of Arabs or Iran than Israel - he just thinks the U.S. shouldn't meddle in other countries issues."

"I think it's quite pro-Israeli, because the U.S. won't stay in the Middle East forever, and Israel should figure out how to deal with its challenges," Hadar said, adding that there "is little doubt the current campaign against him and the attempts to paint him as anti-Israeli might cause him harm among the Evangelicals, whose support is more significant during the primaries than the Republican Jewish support."