Washington Bureau

04.28.14

Rand Paul Attempts To Woo Neocons By Cutting Aid To Palestinians

Rand Paul's legislation to cut foreign aid to the Palestinian government is careful positioning for 2016.

Rand Paul has long been an object of skepticism among neoconservatives in the Republican Party for his hostility to foreign aid and activist foreign policy in the Middle East. However, the Kentucky senator and 2016 hopefulwill introduce legislation Monday that designed to allay the concerns of some of his criticism within the GOP. The irony is that the legislation will cut off foreign aid to the Middle East, or at least one part of it.

Bob Costa from The Washington Post scooped that Paul will introduce legislation designed to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority if the unity government between Hamas and Fatah goes forward. The bill would cut aid after five weeks unless the Palestinians renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The legislation comes as an interesting contrast for Paul who has faced criticism for urging an eventual end to foreign aid to Israel in the past and for taking a relatively dovish stance on Iran compared to other Republicans. While Paul will never be mistaken for John McCain on issues of foreign policy, it’s an opportunity for him for at least try to appeal to a wing of the party that’s been skeptical of him in advance of 2016 and to do so in way that maintains the Kentucky senator’s appeal with his libertarian base, by cutting foreign aid spending.

 The bill is the foreign policy equivalent of a Republican candidate in New York campaigning among poor black voters in the Bronx to appeal middle class moderate whites in Westchester. Paul sacrifices little with his base and can only assuage doubts among those concerned about his views on foreign policy.

Not everyone is buying it though. Noah Pollak, the executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel told The Daily Beast, “It'd be nice to believe this legislation represents a genuine turn by Senator Paul toward a more serious foreign policy. Clearly it is intended to give that impression. But I don't think he's going to find many takers in the pro-Israel community. We're not quite the cheap dates he appears to think we are. “