U.S. Senator Rand Paul, considered the leader of the Republicans' "isolationist wing," has been criticized often in the past by the party's hardline pro-Israel majority as an obstacle to their efforts. Now that he clearly appears to be starting a run for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination, Paul is trying to shore up his hawkish pro-Israel credentials – with a vengeance.
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Following the burial of the three murdered Israeli teenagers on Tuesday, he wrote an op-ed in the conservative National Review Online, citing the boys' murders as a vivid reason to support his bill to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority now that it has joined Hamas in a unity government.
"Some say my position is too hardline, too strong. To them I say, how many more children must die before it is acceptable to cut off the flow of money to terrorists?" Paul wrote.
The Israeli government blames Hamas for the murders; Hamas has denied culpability, but its political leader Khaled Meshal praised the June 12 kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar, who were found murdered in the West Bank 18 days later.
"I asked for unanimous consent to pass this bill weeks ago. 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," Paul wrote.
The senator from Kentucky lauded Israel for "desperately wanting peace," noting that it was "showing remarkable restraint" even though it could use "the type of force that would decisively end their conflict." He added: "But sometimes restraint can work against you. Sometimes you just have to say, enough is enough."
Paul also derided the Obama administration for calling on Israel to show restraint "as it always does in situations like this."
The Republican asked rhetorically, "How many times must Israel hear this call? Children are murdered — please show restraint. Cafés and buses are bombed — please show restraint. Towns are victimized by hundreds of rockets — please show restraint while you bury your dead once again."