Mike Huckabee Rewrites US-Israel Policy in Visit to West Bank

Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee offered a different vision of international law and American policy regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

ByMolly Hunter
August 19, 2015, 2:12 PM
PHOTO: Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Aug. 19, 2015.
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee gestures as he speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, Aug. 19, 2015.
Sebastian Scheiner/AP Photo

—JERUSALEM -- On the final day of a 48-hour swing through Israel and the West Bank, Republican presidential contender Gov. Mike Huckabee offered a dramatically different vision of international law and U.S. policy regarding the Occupied Palestinian Territories, even saying he would not use the term “West Bank” and might not support a two-state solution in the region.

Speaking to reporters at the ritzy Waldorf Astoria residences here in Jerusalem, Huckabee challenged the international community’s frequent use of three words: “West Bank, illegal and occupation.”

“Occupation," he explained to reporters, "suggests someone is taking land illegally from someone else.”

And that’s not how he sees it. Huckabee said he considers all the West Bank part of Israel, which pits him against U.S. foreign policy.

Huckabee, 59, held a fundraiser Tuesday in the West Bank settlement of Shilo, an area international law considers occupied territory. It’s not his first visit to the West Bank, he said, nor will it be his last.

“If you’re going to visit Israel you should visit all of Israel, and that would include Judea and Samaria,” the former Arkansas governor told reporters Tuesday, using the biblical names for the West Bank.

He said today, “I will happily go to Shilo anytime. Shilo used to be the capital of Israel... it was the seat of the tabernacle.”

He suggested Israelis have a stronger historical connection to Shilo, dating back 3,500 years, than Americans do to Manhattan, a claim that only dates back some 400 years.

The Obama administration considers Israeli settlements illegal under international law, and has frequently criticized Netanyahu’s right wing government’s support of the ongoing settlement expansion.

"It is interesting to me that our government has put more pressure on the Israeli government to stop building bedrooms in their own neighborhoods, than on Iran to stop building bombs,” he said.

Bedrooms, Huckabee added, never hurt anyone.

Asked what he suggested doing with the nearly 3 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, Huckabee said that was for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate.

As his aides hurried him out of the room today, a reporter asked whether he would be the only president not to support a two-state solution?

"I'm not sure,” he said.

Two different governments operating on the same piece of land is "not workable,” he said, and has never been workable in his opinion.

Huckabee met early today with Prime Minister Netanyahu and praised Netanyahu for his leadership against the Iran nuclear deal.

Huckabee said last month President Obama was “marching the Israelis to the door of the oven,” with the deal, and stood by that controversial comment today when asked.

The deal represents a "clear and present danger" to Israel and the United States, Huckabee said, adding he would "most certainly undo” any deal with Iran if elected president.

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