Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul wants Americans to know that he is a friend of Israel. He plans to introduce a bill today putting conditions on U.S. aid to the newly formed unified government of Palestine, The Washington Post reported
Within five weeks of Palestine's new government forming, the nation would be required to renounce violence against Israel and issue a public declaration of the country's right to exist. Paul characterized the latter as "vital" for peace talks.
"Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with an entity that does not believe it should exist, and has used terrorist tactics to seek its end," Paul, part of the tea party faction of the GOP, said in a statement.
After seven years of infighting, the moderate Fatah faction in the West Bank recently joined forces with Hamas to form one interim government. The groups hold fundamental differences: Fatah has been negotiating with Israel while Hamas refuses to recognize its legitimacy, according to the Post.
Hamas has long been considered a terrorist organization for being sworn to Israel's destruction as well as carrying out "scores of bombings and shootings that killed hundreds of Israelis over the past two decades," according to the Daily Mail.
The groups have reached similar agreements in the past, though a governing body has never been created. It's not clear how the most recent announcement differs from past agreements, the Mail reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of playing both sides of the fence.
"He has to choose," Netanyahu said last week. "Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace. So far he hasn't done so."
Paul's proposed legislation comes as he weighs a 2016 presidential run, and tries to broaden his appeal to more mainstream voters. He has been traveling the country and encouraging the GOP to embrace diversity. Since being elected senator in 2010, some conservatives have questioned his commitment to Israel, especially in light of the non-interventionist views of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the Post said.
During a December trip to Israel, Paul told Breitbart News that he stands with Israel, The Daily Caller reported.
"Well, absolutely we stand with Israel," he said. "But what I think we should do is announce to the world — and I think it is pretty well known — that any attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on the United States."
Paul won the Maine Republican Convention straw poll on Sunday, beating out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz who placed second, and third-place finisher Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, according to Politico.
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