Analysis: 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

Glimpse at Elizabeth Warren’s record on Israel as senator inches towards presidential run

While she has consistently criticized Wall Street and held on to standard left-wing positions, her record on Israel has been, at best, mixed.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Nov. 24, 2014. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Nov. 24, 2014. Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90.

Ahead of her expected campaign entry for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced on Monday that she launched an exploratory committee to run for the highest office in the United States.

While she has consistently criticized Wall Street and held on to standard left-wing positions, her record on Israel has been, at best, mixed.

On Aug. 20, 2014, Warren said: “America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world … where there aren’t any liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by a rule of law.”

“We very much need an ally in that part of the world,” she continued. “I think about this from our perspective.”

“Israel has a right to defend itself,” she added. “We have an interest in Israel defending itself and surviving.”

However, one month later, following the latest Gaza conflict, Warren was not one of the 88 senators to sign a letter in favor of preventing both the rearming of Hamas and Palestinian Authority conduct at the United Nations.

Nonetheless, that year, she was a co-sponsor of U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act to strengthen American cooperation with the Jewish state on matters such as defense, agriculture, energy and water.

In 2015, Warren was one of four Democrats to vote against a bill in the Senate Banking Committee that would impose sanctions on Iran if it failed to reach an agreement with the United States and other countries by a June 30 deadline. A deal was not reached until July of that year.

She was one of 75 senators to sign a letter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry, stating that they would not back foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless the Obama administration completes a review of the P.A.’s choice to join the International Criminal Court.

That same year, Warren was one of nearly 60 Democrats who boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress, warning about the prospects of a nuclear Iran.

Five months later, she came out in support of the Iran nuclear deal. “This agreement presents a comprehensive set of restrictions to block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. It allows us continuous access to key facilities and imposes stringent verification measures to ensure that Iran’s entire fuel cycle is peaceful. If Iran cheats, we will be able to respond with the strength and support of the world behind us. If at any point the United States doubts Iran’s compliance, the agreement gives the United States extraordinary power to reimpose sanctions unilaterally.”

“I do not trust the Iranian regime, which continues to terrorize its neighbors and to undermine international peace and stability, and this deal does not end our significant disputes with Iran,” she continued. “Existing sanctions for Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and human-rights abuses will remain in place, and we must continue to work with the international community to counter Iran’s dangerous behavior.”

“But it is far easier to counter the ambitions of an Iran that has no nuclear weapon than it is to counter an Iran that can threaten the world with a nuclear bomb,” she added.

“This isn’t a strategy,” she added. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”

In August 2017, the senator came out against the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would amend the Export Administration Act of 1979, forbidding American firms from partaking in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, including boycotts advocated by international organizations such as the United Nations.

In doing so, she labeled BDS as “wrong,” but said, “I think outlawing protected free-speech activity violates our basic constitution.

A few months later, she criticized the administration for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, telling the Union for Reform Judaism convention in Boston that while she believes Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state, final negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians should determine that status.

Last April, Warren slammed Israel’s response to rioters on the Gaza border: “I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza. As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”

Finally, Warren remarked that U.S. President Donald Trump withdrawing America from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May “breaks our word, hurts our credibility with our allies, empowers Iranian hardliners, and doesn’t make us any safer here at home,” in addition to not “offering any real alternative to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, creating chaos and confusion across the Middle East, and the world.”

Whether the recently re-elected senator will change course on Israel-related issues or stay on the path of appealing to the anti-Israel crowd is to be determined as she is expected to formally announce her run for president early next year.

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