WASHINGTON – A foreign policy adviser to presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reiterated Monday that the former vice president opposes the idea of reducing or withholding military aid to Israel if it annexes parts of the West Bank.
Biden has said in the past that curtailing military assistance to Israel would be “outrageous” and “wrong.” His adviser, former State Department official Anthony Blinken, said that Biden stands by his previous remarks.
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“He completely opposes it, he would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions Israel makes,” Blinken said in a call organized by the Democratic Majority for Israel, an organization that seeks to increase support for Israel within the Democratic Party.
Blinken, who served as deputy national security adviser to former U.S. President Barack Obama, added that Biden does not think U.S. aid to Israel should be conditioned on any particular policy.
In addition, Blinken said that if elected president, Biden will try to keep any disagreements and disputes the United States may have with Israel away from the public eye and resolve matters behind closed doors. Blinken added that Biden believes in “keeping things between friends and maintaining as little distance as possible in public.”
Biden was involved in several very public clashes between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over issues such as expending construction in Jewish West Bank settlements and the Iran nuclear deal. The former vice president was often dispatched by Obama to try and overcome core disagreements with the Israeli leadership. He has boasted in the past of being a “personal friend” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But Biden boycotted Netanyahu's address to the 2015 UN General Assembly, in which he dealt extensively with the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. The address, which took place two weeks before Israel’s general election and was coordinated with the Republican leadership in Congress behind Obama’s back, was seen by the White House as a personal attack on the president.
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In the 2020 Democratic primary, Biden resisted left-wing pressure to adopt a harsher and more critical stance toward Israel. In March, Biden sent a video message to the annual AIPAC conference and expressed his gratitude for AIPAC’s work to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties. Senator Bernie Sanders, who was then the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary and has since dropped out of the race, didn’t attend the event for ideological reasons.