Several Democrat members of the US Senate have urged Republicans to reject a colleague's call to stop American foreign aid, including funds for Israel. "Both Republicans and Democrats are committed to reining in the federal deficit, but assistance to Israel is not a matter of 'pork barrel spending,' " said the letter sent Tuesday to the Republican chairmen of the House of Representatives Appropriations and Budget committees, Hal Rogers and Paul Ryan. "Rather, US foreign aid to Israel demonstrates America's rock-solid commitment to ensuring Israel's right to exist." The letter, signed by seven Senate Democrats, comes in the wake of a call last week by the newly elected Republican senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, to slash foreign spending, including all assistance to Israel.
"At a time when US foreign aid is being utilized to strengthen our partnerships around the world, particularly in the Middle East where our relationships are more important than ever, we urge you to commit to maintain full foreign aid funding to Israel," the letter said. In the wake of Paul's remarks, the Republican Jewish Coalition said Paul had been "misguided" for saying Israel funding should be cut, adding that he was likely to be a lone voice among his colleagues.
Meanwhile, the evangelical group Christians United for Israel has garnered more than 20,000 signatures on a letter which also urges Paul to drop calls to end aid to Israel. "Eliminating aid to Israel would abandon a key ally in a dangerous region at a turbulent time. Such a cut would betray our highest principles, endanger our nation, and, in the long run, end up costing us far more," the petiton says.