Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic candidate for Vice President in the upcoming U.S. election, said on Wednesday that if she and former Vice President Joe Biden win the election, their administration will not place new conditions on military aid to Israel, and will continue to provide Israel with the high levels of security assistance that the country received from the Obama administration.
“Joe has made it clear,” Harris said in a phone call with Jewish supporters, “he will not tie security assistance to political decisions Israel makes, and I couldn’t agree more.” Biden has indeed stated several times over the past year that unlike other Democratic politicians, most notably Senator Bernie Sanders, he does not support the calls to place conditions on military aid to Israel in order to pressure the country to change its policies. Biden has called this idea “outrageous.”
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Harris told the supporters on Wednesday’s call that Biden was proud of the Obama administration’s unprecedented levels of security assistance to Israel. She added that as Obama’s Vice President, Biden was deeply involved in negotiating the 2016 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding, which secured $38 billion in military aid to Israel, more than any other U.S. administration had ever agreed to devote to Israel’s security.
In a hinted reference to a recent controversy surrounding the sale of F-35 planes by the Trump administration to the United Arab Emirates, Harris also stated that a Biden-Harris administration will be totally committed to upholding Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge over its neighbors. “We will sustain this unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security,” Harris said.
In reply to a question about Iran, Harris said that “we will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period.” She criticized President Donald Trump from withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, a step she said had increased Iran’s aggressive behavior and isolated the United States on the world stage. “The deal blocked Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon and it was working,” she said.
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Harris noted that as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she heard from U.S. intelligence officials that the deal was working, and that Trump’s decision to withdraw from it in 2018 left the United States isolated from its allies who are still committed to the deal. “Trump recently took the issue of the arms embargo on Iran to the UN Security Council, only one other country voted with us,” Harris told the listeners.
Biden has said in the past that if elected president, he will not just re-commit to the 2015 nuclear deal, but will try to negotiate new terms and conditions that will cover issues that were left out, such as Iran’s military involvement in other Middle Eastern countries and its ballistic missile program. Harris repeated that message, stating that “we will work with our allies to strengthen and extend the deal, and push back against Iran’s destabilizing actions.”
Harris accused Trump of “repeated failures” in his handling of the coronavirus and the economic crisis it has unleashed in the United States. She said that Trump seeks to sow division on every issue - “even masks! He’s dividing the country.” She said that America needs “a president who will bring all of us together.” Harris also warned that Trump was trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and that Biden will preserve and strengthen it if elected.
The call also featured two other speakers - Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), one of the most prominent Jewish lawmakers in Congress. Emhoff recounted visiting Israel with Harris in 2018 and witnessing her “strong support of the Israeli people.” He noted that Biden was inspired to run for president by the anti-Semitic, far-right march that took place in Charlottesville in 2017, and by Trump’s assertion that there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis who participated in it.
Deutch said that the Biden campaign was making an “unprecedented Jewish engagement effort” in key swing states, and warned that despite Biden’s current lead in the polls, “we can’t take anything for granted. We need to fight for every Jewish vote in every swing state.” Both Emhoff and Deutch encouraged people to check their voting registration status and make a voting plan ahead of the November 3rd election.