Rubio, Trump Spar over Israel, Peace Process
Donald Trump’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “anti-Israel,” Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio charged during a live televised presidential debate on Thursday.
“You might not know this but the position you are taking is an anti-Israel position,” Rubio told Trump, referring to his comments during a town hall event last week, in which he suggested that he would take a ‘neutral’ approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “A deal between Israel and the Palestinians, given the current makeup of the Palestinians, is not possible.”
“I will be on Israel’s side every day,” the Florida Senator pledged.
Trump countered the charge by explaining that the approach he took is an effort to broker a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. “It serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy. I am very pro-Israel but it doesn’t do any good to be demeaning the neighbors,” he said. “I would love to do something to negotiate peace for Israel and the neighbors.”
“As president there is nothing that I would rather do than to bring peace to Israel and it’s neighbors generally,” he continued. “Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest ‘negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors. And I can’t do that as well — as a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.”
“Donald might able to build condos in the Palestinian areas, but this is not a real estate deal,” Rubio hit back.
Cruz, on his part, slammed Trump for contributing to candidates who were not strongly pro-Israel throughout his business career. “If you care about Israel, you don’t write checks to politicians that are undermining Israel,” Cruz said. “If I’m president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.”
“There is nobody on this stage that has done more for Israel than I have. You are all talk and no action,” Trump responded.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson also chimed in on the subject after whining, “I didn’t get asked about Israel.”
“When I was there several months ago, I talked to a lot of people. I couldn’t find a single one who didn’t think that we had turned our backs on Israel,” said Carson. “You know, they are a strategic partner for us but also recognize that we have a Judeo Christian foundation, and the last thing we need to do is to reject Israel. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be fair to other people. We can always be fair to other people, but, you know, it’s like when you have a child, you know, you want to be fair to all the children around but you have a special attention for your own child.”
Read a full transcript of the exchange on Israel below:
Trump: I was the Grand Marshall down 5th 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.
As president, however, there’s nothing that I would rather do to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors generally. And I think it serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy.
Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. OK? But it doesn’t help if I start saying, “I am very pro-Israel, very pro, 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.
And I can’t do that as well — as a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.
Cruz: Well, 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.
Let me be clear. If I’m president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel.
And 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 terrorist strapping dynamite around their chest, 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.
Just today, Iran announced they’re going to pay $7,000 to each suicide bomber. And I would note, 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 this — if you want to know who will stand with Israel, we ought to start with who has stood with Israel when the heat was on.
Trump: Well, I can only say — look, I can only say I’ve been a big contributor to Israel over the years. I’ve received many, many awards from Israel, as I’ve said before. I have a great relationship with Israel. And I’m going to keep it that way. And if I could bring peace, that would be a fantastic thing. It would be one of my greatest achievements as president.
Kasich: Well, I mean, well, I was in Congress for 18 years on the Defense Committee. And then, you know, after 9/11, the secretary of defense called me in to help out with some things. And I’ve been a supporter of Israel — a strong supporter of Israel longer than anybody on this stage. I didn’t give as much money as Donald gave, but I’ve been standing with the Israelis for a very long time.
And frankly, I think the problem we have in foreign policy right now, Wolf, is that we are not certain with who we stand with. Our allies are not sure what to make of us, and our enemies are moving. And one — are moving because they’re not sure what we will do.
It’s a very interesting development here within the 24 hours. We said to the South Koreans that we would give them the high altitude defense system. It really rattled the Chinese, and for the first time since we took positive action, the Chinese are beginning to take action against North Korea.
When we stand firm and we let the world know who we’re with, who we stand for, and we bring our allies together, that is the road forward.
Rubio: 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. Because you cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith. The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace, very generous offers from the Israels. 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 again 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 — I’m not going to sit here and say, “Oh, I’m not on either side.” I will be on a 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.
Trump: I’m a negotiator. I’ve done very well over the years through negotiation. It’s very important that we do that. In all fairness, Marco is not a negotiator. I watched him melt down and I’ll tell you, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. He’s not going down — excuse me…
Rubio: He thinks a Palestinian is a real estate deal.
Trump: Wait a minute, and these people may even be tougher than Chris Christie. OK?
Rubio: The Palestinians are not a real estate deal, Donald.
Trump: OK, no, no, no — a deal is a deal. Let me tell you that. I learned a long time ago.
Rubio: A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing with terrorists. Have you ever negotiated with terrorists?
Trump: You are not a negotiator. You are not a negotiator. And, with your thinking, you will never bring peace. You will never bring peace…
Rubio: Donald, might be able to build condos for Palestinians and Arabs, but it’s not a real estate deal…
Trump: Excuse me, I want to be able to bring peace. He will never be able to do it. I think I may be able to do it, although I will say this. Probably the toughest deal of any kind is that particular deal.
Carson: As far as Israel is concerned, you know, when I was there several months ago, I talked to a lot of people. I couldn’t find a single one who didn’t think that we had turned our backs on Israel. You know, they are a strategic partner for us but also recognize that we have a Judeo Christian foundation, and the last thing we need to do is to reject Israel. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be fair to other people. We can always be fair to other people, but, you know, it’s like when you have a child, you know, you want to be fair to all the children around but you have a special attention for your own child.
Another exchange took place over Israel further on in the debate:
Cruz: Another example is John Kerry. John Kerry — Senator Rubio voted to confirm John Kerry as secretary of State. I voted against him. And Donald Trump supported John Kerry against George W. Bush in 2004, gave him a check. And John Kerry has been the most anti-Israel secretary of State this country has ever seen.
Trump: As far as John Kerry is concerned, there has been no tougher critic of this man, I think he negotiated one of the worst deals in the history of our country, the Iran deal, where they get their $150 billion and all of the other things that take place.
It is a disaster for this country, and speaking of Israel, it’s a disaster for Israel. I’m no fan of John Kerry.
Cruz: I’ll give one more example on Israel. When the Obama administration canceled civilian air flights into the national of Israel, when Hamas was raining rockets down on them, I publicly asked, is this an economic boycott against Israel?
The next day Michael Bloomberg, another New York billionaire, got on a plane, a commercial flight, and flew to Israel from London. Together the heat and light that was put on the State Department was so great that within 36 hours they lifted the ban on air flights into Israel.
During that entire battle, and indeed during every battle on Israel the natural question is, where was Donald? If this is something he cares about, why has he supported anti-Israel politicians from Jimmy Carter to Hillary Clinton to John Kerry for four decades?
If you care about Israel, you don’t write checks to politicians who are undermining Israel. Instead you stand and support the national security of America and the alliance with Israel.
Trump: There is nobody on this stage that has done more for Israel than I have. Nobody. You might say, you might talk, you’re politicians, all talk, no action.
I’ve been watching it all my life. You are all talk and no action.