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Graham Defends Israel, Threatens to Defund UN

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he will not sit idly by while the United Nations attempts to pressure Israel into accepting a timetable for reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

At a press conference Wednesday at Jerusalem's historic King David Hotel, Graham told reporters he would lead bipartisan efforts to withdraw U.S. funding to the United Nations.

"If the United Nations, through the Security Council, adopted a position to define the terms of the peace process, then I would lead an effort in the Congress to suspend our funding," Graham said.

As chairman of the Senate appropriations committee on international funding, Graham said he has the authority to withhold U.S. funds if the U.N. attempts to "define the terms of the peace process" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

"We provide 25 percent of the funding to the United Nations. We have a lot of influence," he said. "We're not getting a lot for our money."

Graham said he would not ask U.S. taxpayers to fund an organization attempting to "marginalize" Israel.

"I'm not going to ask the American taxpayer to fund an organization that's going to be used in a way to marginalize one of our closest friends, the State of Israel," he said.

He also vowed zero tolerance against any country supporting the International Criminal Court's attempt to charge Israel with war crimes for last summer's military incursion in the Gaza Strip.

Comparing Israel and Boko Haram

The senior senator also spoke against a pending U.N. report equating Israel and Boko Haram, the Islamist terror group that has brutalized Nigerians, especially children.

"There's a report that may come out any day now where the United Nations is considering the State of Israel in the same category as Boko Haram when it comes to crimes against children," Graham told reporters.

"If that ever happened, if the United Nations embraced a report putting the State of Israel in the same categories with terrorist organizations in terms of the way they treat innocent people, particularly children, that would be an outrage that would not go unanswered," he said.

Boko Haram's official name means "people committed to the propagation of the prophet's teachings and jihad."

Plight of Middle East Christians

Graham also shared his concerns about the plight of Christians in the region.

"I've never seen more threats to the Christian community than I see today," he said. "We're about to destroy one of the most ancient religious groups in the Mideast. I am incredibly concerned the rise of ISIL can be the end of Christianity as we know it in the Middle East."

During his two-day visit, Graham met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, MK Michael Oren and Labor Party chairman and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog.

Graham, who is expected to announce his bid for president on June 1, also warned about the growth not just of Iran's nuclear program, but also its conventional weapons program. He said its sophistication poses a threat to the region and the world.

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