(JTA) — All three of the Democrats seeking to become the next head of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee have said they do not want U.S. money to aid Israel’s potential annexation of parts of the West Bank.
Reps. Brad Sherman of California, Joaquin Castro of Texas and Gregory Meeks of New York are vying for the role with the defeat of the current head, longtime pro-Israel voice Eliot Engel, in his New York primary in June.
“I oppose any use of American taxpayer dollars to implement the Annexation Plan or to build any permanent Israeli installation in the West Bank or Gaza,” Sherman said in a statement.
Sherman and Meeks are longtime allies of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the country’s largest pro-Israel lobby.
“Not a penny of US taxpayer money should subsidize or enable any unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank,” Castro said. “Under a two-state approach, America has a responsibility to be an arbiter of peace, which means we need trust and credibility with both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Meeks suggested that aid to Israel could be used as leverage to influence its policy.
“Annexation is anathema to a two-state solution, and America cannot be used by its proponents to justify a pro-annexation position or policy,” he said. “On the contrary, the United States must be explicit in our opposition by applying pressure against Netanyahu should he annex territory, including leveraging US aid.”
Whether or not to withhold U.S. funds to Israel has become a common question posed to politicians since Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont brought it up prominently in the Democratic presidential campaign.