Following a speech at the Herzliya security conference, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour said he supports the U.S. policy of providing aid to Israel. "Sure, I always have," Barbour told THE WEEKLY STANDARD when asked if he supports continuing U.S. military aid to Israel, which costs roughly $3 billion annually.
Barbour is widely expected to announce a run for the presidency soon, and his remarks are an indication that, even as the GOP looks to slash the federal budget, support for Senator Rand Paul's (R, Ky.) proposal to cut aid to Israel may remain quite limited.
Barbour received a standing ovation from the crowd in Herzliya following his vigorously pro-Israel address today. "Whatever our religious faith, or lack thereof, all Americans can see Israel as the holy land of democratic faith," he said. "We are committed to a state of Israel that is secure, democratic, prosperous, and Jewish."
Barbour also welcomed Israel to the "offshore oil and gas club" in light of recent oil and gas discoveries off Israel's coast. He devoted much of his speech to the merits of offshore drilling and criticized the Obama administration for "inflicting a disaster in America through its moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."
After landing that jab, Barbour said he would not criticize the president's national security or foreign policy positions while in a foreign country. But he did say that "we must recongize and focus on Iran as the crucial strategic issue" in the region. He also praised Israel's decision to bomb Iraq's nuclear facilities in the 1980s--a move that "plainly served the strategic interests" of all free nations, Barbour said.