Oct 24, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Ramaswamy's pitch on Israel: "No money," but a "diplomatic Iron Dome"

Republican presidential candidate businessman Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to the press following a campaign event on October 20, 2023 in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Vivek Ramaswamy speaks to the press following a campaign event on Oct. 20 in Fort Madison, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy doesn't support sending aid to Israel in its war with Hamas, telling Axios during a sit-down interview on Tuesday that the U.S. should provide diplomatic cover without getting directly involved.

Driving the news: "In my ideal view of this, Israel should be able to make the decisions of how it defends itself and its national self-existence," Ramaswamy told Axios. "And we provide a diplomatic Iron Dome for Israel to be able to carry that out. And that's it. No money."

  • Ramaswamy added that if Israel has a "specific plan of action with clearly defined objectives" and some of those areas intersect with U.S. interests, "then that's a reasonable conversation to have."
  • "It's not that Israel's asking us for military aid or money right now either," Ramaswamy said. "Best I can tell, Israel is making its own plans and barreling forward."
  • "But if the U. S. is going to be involved, then it's up to the U. S. to have a very clear understanding of what exactly are Israel's identifiable objectives."

Ramaswamy said this week that U.S. aid to Israel should be contingent on the country's plans for defeating Hamas. "'Destroy Hamas is not on its own a viable or coherent strategy," he said in a statement shared with The Hill.

The big picture: Ramaswamy, who has touted himself as "America First 2.0," has shifted his stance on Israel several times over the course of his campaign.

  • He has said in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas attack in early October that the U.S. should offer Israel intelligence support and be ready to provide military supplies.
  • Back in August, Ramaswamy's campaign said cutting aid to Israel "makes zero sense" at "any time in the foreseeable future" after he told Russell Brand in an interview that he would end funding to Israel when a $38 billion package ends in 2028.

Between the lines: The evolving crisis in the Middle East has exposed divisions within the GOP over what the United States' role in foreign affairs should be.

  • President Biden last week announced a multi-billion dollar package that combined aid to Israel and Ukraine. It would also ramp up U.S. border security.

Go deeper: 2024 GOP candidates: U.S. should reject Gaza refugees

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