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Last week, Donald Trump made headlines again when he said he would take a “neutral stance” on the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Trump was immediately attacked by his GOP ticket rivals and even by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who said the GOP candidates over-simplify the situation in Israel but nevertheless said she would support the two-state-solution.
During last Thursday’s Texas GOP debate, Trump was again questioned about his position on the issue by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer asked the GOP frontrunner: “How do you remain neutral when the U.S. considers Israel to be America’s closest ally in the Middle East?”
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“Well, first of all, I don’t think they do under President Obama because I think he has treated Israel horribly alright? I think he’s treated Israel horribly,” Trump repeated before listing his Israel credentials.
“I was the Grand Marshal down Fifth Avenue a number of years ago for the Israeli Day parade. I have very close ties to Israel. I’ve received the Tree of Life Award and many of the greatest awards given by Israel,” Trump said.
He then made clear that these credentials would not be translated in favoritism toward Israel if he becomes president.
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“As president, however, there’s nothing that I would rather do (than) bring peace to Israel and its neighbors,” Trump declared and added, “I think it serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy.”
Sen. Ted Cruz was the first to respond to Trump’s remarks.
“This is another area on which Donald agrees with Hillary Clinton and on which I disagree with them both strongly. Both Donald and Hillary Clinton want to be “neutral” – to use Donald’s word – between Israel and the Palestinians,” Cruz said before reiterating his position on Israel.
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“Let me be clear: If I’m president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel. The notion of neutrality is based upon the Left buying into this moral relativism that is often pitched in the media,” Cruz added. “Listen, it is not equivalent. When you have terrorists strapping dynamite around their chests, exploding and murdering innocent women and children, they are not equivalent to the IDF officers protecting Israel. And I will not pretend that they are.”
Cruz then attacked Trump’s track record on Israel. “Just today, Iran announced they’re going to pay $7,000 to each suicide bomber. I would note (that) missing from Donald’s answer was anything he has done – in his nearly 70 years of living – defending Israel. I have, over and over again, led the fight to defend Israel, to fight for Israel, and if you want to know who will stand with Israel, let’s start with who has stood with Israel when the heat was on,” he said.
“I don’t know if Donald realizes this – I’m sure it’s not his intent, perhaps – but the position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position, and here’s why,” replied Rubio adding that “you cannot be an ‘honest broker’ in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith.”
He then explained how the Palestinians time after time destroyed the peace negotiations with Israel:
The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace – very generous offers from the Israelis. Instead, here’s what the Palestinians do: They teach their four-year-old children that killing Jews is a glorious thing. Here’s what Hamas does: They launch rockets and terrorist attacks against Israel on an ongoing basis.
The bottom line is, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians – given the current makeup of the Palestinians – is not possible. And so the next president of the United States needs to be someone like me, who will stand firmly on the side of Israel.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m not on either side. I will be on Israel’s side every single day because they are the only pro-American, free-enterprise democracy in the entire Middle East,” Rubio concluded while the crowd cheered.
Trump replied by saying that he is a born negotiator and Rubio is not, to which Rubio ridiculed Trump’s negotiation skills relating to his ability to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“He thinks (negotiating with) the Palestinians is a real-estate deal,” Rubio said.
“Donald may be able to bring condos to the Palestinian areas, but this is not a real-estate deal,” the senator added.
Pundits in Israel followed the debate with great interest, and on Friday the Israeli free-copy paper published an interview with Trump in which the GOP frontrunner replied to the criticism that his commitment to Israel is weaker than the other candidates.
“My friendship with Israel is stronger than any other candidate. I want to make one thing clear: I want to strike a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is what I aspire to do. Peace is possible, even if it is the most difficult agreement to achieve. As far as I understand, Israel is also interested in a peace deal. I’m not saying I’ll succeed, or even that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is within reach, but I want to try. But in order for an agreement to happen, the Palestinians need to show interest. It’s a little difficult to reach an agreement when the other side doesn’t really want to talk to you,” the real-estate mogul said.
“Don’t get confused there in Israel: I am currently your biggest friend. My daughter is married to a Jew who is an enthusiastic Israel supporter, and I have taken part in many Israel Day Parades. My friendship with Israel is very strong,” Trump added.
Trump may be a great friend of Israe, but the Israeli public no longer agrees with his belief that “peace is possible, even if it is the most difficult agreement to achieve.” And no, Israelis are not confused about Trump’s idea that peace is possible because the current U.S. president and all his predecessors thought the same.
A recent poll among Jewish Israeli’s revealed that only 4% of the Israeli public considers a peace agreement with the Palestinians their highest priority. Leftist commentators and politicians in Israel increasingly concede that a solution for the conflict is not possible because of Palestinian intransigence and the radicalization that engulfs the Middle East.
“Today, Israelis have essentially embraced the status quo as the least terrifying option,” Israeli analyst Yossi Klein Halevi wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
“Israel finds itself in perhaps the most frightening time since the weeks before the Six-Day War, when Arab armies massed on its borders and Arab leaders threatened to destroy the Jewish state. Terror enclaves now exist on most of Israel’s borders- Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, Islamic State on the Golan Heights and in Sinai, Hamas in Gaza. Tens of thousands of missiles are aimed at Israeli cities and are capable of reaching any point in Israel. Iran is emerging as the region’s dominant power, even as it remains on the nuclear threshold. And a growing international movement to boycott the Jewish state has deepened Israelis’ sense of siege,” he added.
Indeed, while the “Jerusalem Intifada” – as the Arabs call the “new” terror war against Israel – rages on Rubio and Cruz seem to understand the reality in Israel and the Middle East better than Trump. Middle East expert Daniel Pipes recently explained why.
Pipes noted that the first attacks on Jews in “Palestine” began in 1834 when a Muslim army headed by the Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha murdered Jews who were living in the northern town of Safed for ages. This massacre was followed by many pogroms and mass killings of Jews during the first waves of Jewish immigration to “Palestine” and continued after the establishment of the state of Israel until today.
The existence of the State of Israel is an affront in the eyes of most Muslims because the state was established on the territory of Islam (Dar al-Islam). This is the real reason every attempt to solve the conflict has failed so far.
Many in Israel would advise Trump to read the book One State -Two States by historian Benny Morris. If he does, he will discover that even the best negotiator will fail to solve this conflict because of the lack of evolution in the position of the Palestinian national movement toward the existence of Israel.
Already in 2009 Morris wrote that the prospects for the so-called two-state-solution were very bleak because the Palestinian Arabs oppose such an outcome. “They demand all of ‘Palestine’ as their patrimony,” Morris wrote.