(CNSNews.com) – No U.S. president should pressure Israel to surrender land to which God gave it the title deed, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Thursday, distinguishing himself from others in the field by declaring his opposition to the “two-state solution.”
“No American president should ever put the pressure on Israel to give up land that God gave them the title deed to,” he said.
“And that includes Judea and Samaria,” Huckabee added, using the biblical names for the area now known as the West Bank, where the Palestinians want to have an independent state.
The former Arkansas governor was addressing a forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) in Washington, which featured speeches from all 14 GOP candidates in the 2016 race for the White House.
Huckabee took aim at the “two-state solution,” supported by many Democrats and Republicans, making it clear he did not.
“I realize that for the past several years there has been both on the Democratic and the Republican side the notion that we would be able to achieve Middle East peace by something called the two-state solution,” he said.
“I consider it no solution whatsoever. There cannot be two states holding for the same piece of real estate – especially when one of those states does not believe the other one even has a right to exist, much less exist peacefully,” Huckabee said.
He also criticized the administration for responding to violence in Israel by calling on “both sides” to exercise restraint.
“I don’t want to hear a secretary of state or a president give a lecture to Israel, in the midst of them defending themselves against unwarranted, provocative rocket attacks, and somehow say ‘both sides’ need to settle down.”
He recalled being in Jerusalem last August, at a time “when Hamas was firing rockets out of Gaza aiming specifically, intentionally for civilian targets.”
“Any my blood boiled because I was there when [Secretary of State] John Kerry gave a press conference at which he called for ‘both sides’ to tamp down the violence.”
Huckabee said he wanted to ask Kerry to come and see what he was seeing – “What I’m seeing is this: Hamas is putting children and unarmed women in front of their weaponry. The Israelis are putting their weaponry in front of their children and their women, trying to protect them.”
“There is not an equivalency here,” he said. “This is not about ‘both sides’ trying somehow to calm down. This is about one side trying to murder innocent people and another side trying to protect their families, as they have a God-given right to do.”
Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, did not shy away from speaking about Israel’s significance in the light of the Bible.
“I do not believe that it is possible for anybody to look at the remarkable, stunning history, not only of ancient Israel but of the modern nation of Israel, and somehow believe that that could be without the providence and the hand of almighty God,” he said. “There is simply no other explanation.”
Huckabee noted that he has traveled to Israel “dozens and dozens of times” since his first visit in 1973, building a relationship that long predated his career in politics.
Earlier this week GOP frontrunner Donald Trump told the Associated Press that his success as president in achieving a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would depend “a lot” on “whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.”
In his address, Huckabee – without mentioning Trump by name – took issue with what he said were “head-scratching” things said by some people – “even Republican candidates for president.”
“I most certainly don’t want to hear anybody say that the Israelis just need to give up some things and then they can have peace. I want to remind you that it is Israel that has consistently and repeatedly given up, given up, given up and given up and gotten nothing in return.”
In his address to the RJC forum, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also challenged Trump’s remarks.
“Some in our own party actually call for more sacrifice from the Israeli people,” he said. “They are dead wrong and don’t understand the enduring bond between Israel and America.”
When Trump was on the platform he was asked to elaborate on the comment, and described a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians as “perhaps the hardest deal in history to put together.”
“I don’t know that Israel has the commitment to make it and I don’t know the other side has the commitment to make it,” he said.
Trump then acknowledged that “Israel has given a lot, but hasn’t been given a lot of credit for what they’ve given,” suggesting that that might be because “the public relations for Israel hasn’t been so great.”