Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made it clear during Thursday night’s Texas GOP debate that he cannot “demean” Palestinians and take Israel’s side in its conflict with the Hamas-led government — if elected president.
Resurfacing Trump’s earlier position on the conflict, CNN’s moderator of the event, Wolf Blitzer, restated Trump’s own words.
“Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” Trump expressed earlier when talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as quoted by Blitzer. “I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think it helps.”
Blitzer followed up with this question for the American billionaire.
“How do you remain neutral when the U.S. considers Israel to be America’s closest ally in the Middle East?” the moderator inquired.
“Well, first of all, I don’t think they do under President Obama, because I think he has treated Israel horribly — alright?” Trump stated before he attempted to qualify his earlier comments on the matter. “I think he’s treated Israel horribly. 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 then said that he couldn’t demonstrate favoritism toward Israel once in the Oval Office.
“As president, however, there’s nothing that I would rather do [than] bring peace to Israel and its neighbors,” the 69-year-old businessman-turned politician expressed. “I think it serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy.”
He then justified his lack of willingness to wholeheartedly stand by Israel in its conflict with the terrorist-run Palestinians.
“Now, I may not be successful in doing it,” Trump continued, pointing out that he can’t help achieve peace in the conflict by taking sides, according to WND. “It’s probably the toughest negotiation of anywhere in the world, of any kind, okay? But, it doesn’t help if I start saying I’m very pro-Israel, very pro-Israel — more than anybody on this stage. But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors, because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally — for Israel and for their neighbors.”
Trump’s ‘allegiance’ to Israel attacked
Rivals for the Republican ticket, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) responded to the billionaire’s neutral stance by questioning his loyalty to Israel.
Trump’s lack of commitment to Israel was first targeted during Thursday’s debate by Cruz, who went as far as to say that his foreign policy on Israel reflected that of the far-Left Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
"This is another area on which Donald agrees with Hillary Clinton,” the Texas senator insisted. “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 followed his attack on Trump and Clinton with a promise to steadfastly stand behind Israel as its loyal ally in the Middle East against its hostile neighboring Islamic enemies.
"Let me be clear — if I'm president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel,” the Texan vowed. “The notion of neutrality is based upon the Left buying into this moral relativism that is often pitched in the media. 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.”
He then brought up how Trump’s record on taking action steps to help Israel in its ongoing defense against jihad by its neighbors is non-existent — using this argument to highlight his own unwavering allegiance to Israel.
"Just today, Iran announced they're going to pay $7,000 to each suicide bomber,” Cruz added. “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."
Tag-teaming for Israel
Rubio was then invited to join the fray against Trump for his lack of commitment to Israel when Blitzer inquired why there was anything wrong with Trump’s resolution to negotiate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an “honest broker” with a neutral stance.
"Because, 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 …" the Floridian responded. "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 gave examples of how the Palestinians’ own actions have destroyed any possibility for an equal playing in the conflict, giving specifics about their Hamas-led government’s refusal to carry out peaceful relations with Israel.
“The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multipleefforts to make peace — very generous offers from the Israelis,” Rubio pointed out. "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.”
No excuses, no bending under political pressure
The outspoken Floridian then made it clear that he will not skirt around the issue, but hit it head-on by clearly defining America’s ally and enemy in the conflict — rather than sympathizing with the Palestinians in the name of political correctness, similar to the Obama administration.
"The bottom line is, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians — given the current makeup of the Palestinians — is not possible,” the 44-year-old conservative candidate argued. “And so the next president of the United States needs to be someone like me, who will stand firmly on the side of Israel.”
Rubio concluded his side of the argument by promising his consistent support for Israel and the American principles for which stands — as the sole democracy in the Middle East (surrounded on all sides by jihad-harboring nations).
"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm not on either side,” the former Florida senator declared as the Texan crowd cheered. “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."
When Trump was given center stage to reply to Rubio’s take on America’s foreign policy concerning Israel, he attacked the young candidate’s ability to mediate in foreign affairs.
"I'm a negotiator," the real estate tycoon impressed. "And in all fairness, Marco is not a negotiator."
Rubio counterpunched by contending that international matters shouldn’t be dealt with in the same way that one deals with business transactions.
"He thinks (negotiating with) the Palestinians is a real-estate deal," the quick-witted Republican candidate told the Texas audience in retaliation to Trump’s accusation.
After Trump responded by saying, "These people may even be tougher than Chris Christie," Rubio reiterated his point that negotiating between the Israelis and Palestinians isn’t like conducting a real-estate deal.
But Trump didn’t agree.
"A deal is a deal," the feisty businessman charged back.
Yet Rubio begged to differ, emphasizing Trump’s lack of experience in the war on terror.
"A deal is not a deal when you're dealing with terrorists," the former senator impressed before following up with a pressing question of his own. "Have you ever negotiated with terrorists?"
Avoiding the question, Trump attacked Rubio as not being level-headed enough to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fairly.
"You are not a negotiator, and with your thinking, you will never bring peace," Trump retaliated.
Rubio then reasserted his contention that Trump cannot simply employ his business tactics when dealing with the longstanding Middle Eastern conflict.
"Donald may be able to bring condos to the Palestinian areas, but ... this is not a real-estate deal," the runner-up to Trump in this week’s GOP Nevada Caucus concluded.