Support for Israel remains a top priority for Democrats, as they try to keep up with US President Donald Trump’s unprecedented backing for Israel.
Israel should not worry about any conditions being attached to US support should the Democrats get elected to the White House in November.
Vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has attempted to allay fears among Israel lobbyists after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s previous criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for moving “so, so far to the right”.
Biden is opposed to Israel’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, which Netanyahu suggested was going to take place in July but has since been delayed.
“Joe (Biden) has made it clear he will not tie security assistance to any political decisions that Israel makes and I couldn’t agree more,” Harris said in a Zoom chat with Jewish Democrat donors.
The senator from California further stressed that there would be “unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation” should the Democrats return to power, as there had been under the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Striking a balance
Unlike the Republican party, the Democrat’s voter base includes a lot of progressive currents that are deeply critical of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, as institutionalised in the state’s more than half-century long military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
While traditionally shut out of the party’s congressional wing, a series of primary upsets in 2016 brought in a number of representatives who are against Israeli policy.
Members of Congress, such as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar for example, have been vocally against Israel violations against Palestinians.
The success of candidates, such as Bernie Sanders, who was Joe Biden’s top competitor in the Democratic primaries and is a strong critic of Israel violations of human rights, demonstrates the scale of the sentiment within the party.
Around 27 percent of Democrats say their sympathies lie with Israel over the Palestinians, while 25 percent say the reverse, according to a 2018 poll.
Both Harris and Biden are adamantly pro-Israel but with substantial numbers of Democrats wanting a stronger line against Israeli violations, statements that alienate the demographic could cost the pair votes, particularly in swing states like Michigan, which has a large Arab and Muslim population.
On the other hand, they risk losing pro-Israel voters to the Republicans if they are seen to be giving in too much to more progressive sentiment in the party.