Trump: Israelis, Jewish Friends Want Peace Deal

PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS


Donald Trump stood by his commitment to remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to broker a peace deal, as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz pounced on his comments during Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate aired on CNN.

During the debate, while addressing Trump’s incendiary language, Cruz pointed to Trump’s positions on the Iran nuclear deal and Israel to make the argument why Trump is not ready to be commander-in-chief. “When you look at his substantive policies on Iran, he has said he would not rip up this Iranian nuclear deal. I think that’s a mistake,” said Cruz. “I’ll give you another example, dealing with Islamic radical terrorism. On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians. As president, I will not be neutral. And let me say this week, a Texan, Taylor Force. He was an Eagle Scout, he was a West Point graduate, he was an Army veteran. He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist this week in Israel, and I don’t think we need a commander in chief who is neutral between the Palestinian terrorists and one of our strongest allies in the world, the nation of Israel.”

Trump retorted, “There’s nobody on this stage that’s more pro Israel than I am. OK. There’s nobody. I was the Grand Marshal, not so long ago, of the Israeli Day Parade down 5th avenue. I’ve made massive contributions to Israel. I have tremendous love for Israel. I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter that are Jewish, OK? And two grandchildren that are Jewish.”

Doubling down on his previous comments, Trump said in order to negotiate a peace settlement, “which every Israeli wants,” it would be much more helpful “to at least have the other side think I’m somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done. Maybe we can get a deal.”

Trump also pushed back against Cruz’s attacks over his stance on the Iran deal. “As far as Iran, I would have never made that deal. I think it’s maybe the world deal I’ve ever seen. I think it’s the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated,” he stated. “I will be so tough on them and ultimately that deal will be broken unless they behave better than they’ve ever behaved in their lives, which is probably unlikely. That deal will be broken.”

He further pledged, “If I become president of the United States, one of the things that will be an absolute priority is number one, protection of Israel.”

Chiming in, Rubio argued that the Palestinian Authority was inciting the convulsion of violence and that no settlement that includes Israeli withdrawal of territories will bring peace and security. “There is no peace deal possible with the Palestinians at this moment. There just isn’t,” the Florida Senator said. “The Palestinian Authority is not interested in a serious deal and they are now in union with Hamas, an organization whose specific purpose is the destruction of the Jewish state. Every time that Israel has turned over territory of any kind, be is Gaza, or now in Judea and Samaria, it is used as a launching pad to attack Israel. And that’s what will happen again. These groups are not interested in a deal with Israel. What they are interested in is ultimately removing the Jewish state and occupying its entire territory.”

Rubio reiterated his charge that Trump’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is an anti-Israeli policy.” Adding, “To have a president forcing the Israelis to the table is harmful to the Israelis and emboldens Israel’s enemies.”

But Trump didn’t stand down. “I would love to give it a shot,” he maintained. “I have friends, Israelis, non-Israelis, people from New York City that happen to be Jewish and love Israel, and some are very tough people, every single one of them, they know it’s tough, but every single one of them wants to see if we could ever have peace in Israel. And some believe it’s possible. It may not be, in which case we’ll find out. But it would be a priority if I become president to see what I could do.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich, repeating recent comments he made during the New Hampshire primary, said there’s no long-term permanent peace solution. “I don’t believe there is any long-term permanent peace solution,” he said. “And I think pursuing that is the wrong thing to do. I believe that every day that we can stability in that region by supporting the Israelis and making sure they have the weapons and the security that they need with our 100 percent backing is the way to proceed in the Middle East in regard to Israel.”

Read a full transcript of the debate’s segment on Israel:

CRUZ: And I’ll tell you, frankly one concern I have with Donald is that although his language is quite incendiary, when you look at his substantive policies on Iran, he has said he would not rip up this Iranian nuclear deal. I think that’s a mistake.

The Ayatollah Khomeini wants nuclear weapons to murder us. I’ll give you another example, dealing with Islamic radical terrorism. On Israel, Donald has said he wants to be neutral between Israel and the Palestinians.

As president, I will not be neutral. And let me say this week, a Texan, Taylor Force. He was an Eagle Scout, he was a West Point graduate, he was an Army veteran. He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist this week in Israel, and I don’t think we need a commander in chief…

(BELL RINGS)

… who is neutral between the Palestinian terrorists and one of our strongest allies in the world, the nation of Israel.

(APPLAUSE)

HEWITT: Thank you Senator Cruz.

Mr. Trump. we’re going to come to you in a second, but wait. I want to go to Hugh Hewitt, who has questions on this exact line of subject.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump, I want to follow-up on the quote that Senator Cruz used. You said you would want to be, quote, “sort of a neutral guy”. He did mention Taylor Force. He was a West Point graduate, he was a war hero. He was a Vanderbilt graduate student.

He was killed in a Palestinian terror attack near Tel Aviv, many others were killed. And the Israeli government says the Palestinian authority is inciting this. Do you still want to stay neutral when the Palestinian authority is inciting these attacks.

TRUMP: First of all, there’s nobody on this stage that’s more pro Israel than I am. OK. There’s nobody.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I am pro-Israel.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: I was the grand marshall, not so long ago, of the Israeli Day Parade down 5th avenue. I’ve made massive contributions to Israel. I have a lot of — I have tremendous love for Israel. I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter that are Jewish, OK? And two grandchildren that are Jewish.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: But I will tell you, I think if we’re going to ever negotiate a peace settlement, which every Israeli wants, and I’ve spoken to the toughest and the sharpest, they all want peace, I think it would be much more helpful is — I’m a negotiator. If I go in, I’ll say I’m pro-Israel and I’ve told that to everybody and anybody that would listen.

But I would like to at least have the other side think I’m somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done. Maybe we can get a deal. I think it’s probably the toughest negotiation of all time. But maybe we can get a deal done.

HEWITT: Senator Trump…

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And, by the way, just so you understand, as far as Iran, I would have never made that deal. I think it’s maybe the world deal I’ve ever seen. I think it’s the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated. I will be so tough on them and ultimately that deal will be broken unless they behave better than they’ve ever behaved in their lives, which is probably unlikely. That deal will be broken.

HEWITT: Thank you Mr. Trump. Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio.

CRUZ: You know, we need a president who understands the national security interests of this country. The reason we are friends and allies with Israel is they are a liberal Democratic country that share our values, they’re our strongest ally in the region.

We get billions in intelligence resources, billions in military resources. And the Palestinian Authority that Donald, along with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they want to treat neutrally, the same as Israel. The Palestinian Authority is in a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization.

They pay the families of these terrorists who murder people. And this is exactly the moral relativism Barack Obama has. And the answer is not scream, all Muslims bad.

Let me give you an example of a Muslim for example, we ought to be standing with, President el-Sisi of Egypt, a president of a Muslim country who is targeting radical…

(BELL RINGS)

… Islamic terrorist. HEWITT: Senator Rubio.

CRUZ: He’s hunting them down and stomping them.

HEWITT: Thank you.

CRUZ: Our focus needs to be on keeping this country safe.

HEWITT: I want to go back to the Israeli government’s assertion that the Palestinian Authority is inciting the convulsion of violence. Do you agree.

RUBIO: Well, that’s undeniable. First of all, they’ve said, they’ve encouraged people to do so. And you’ve seen the speeches of the Palestinian Authority president how glorious this is that they’re doing these sorts of things.

But let me go back for a moment. The policy Donald has outlined, I don’t know if he realizes, is an anti-Israeli policy. Maybe that’s not your intent but here’s why it is an anti-Israeli policy. There is no peace deal possible with the Palestinians at this moment. There just isn’t.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: Because there’s no one to negotiate with. The Palestinian Authority is not interested in a serious deal and they are now in union with Hamas, an organization whose specific purpose is the destruction of the Jewish state. Every time that Israel has turned over territory of any kind, be is Gaza, or now in Judea and Sumaira, it is used as a launching pad to attack Israel. And that’s what will happen again.

These groups are not interested in a deal with Israel. What they are interested in is ultimately removing the Jewish state and occupying its entire territory.

(BELL RINGS)

So maybe in 30 years the conditions will exist, but they do not exist now.

HEWITT: Mr. Trump, and then I’ll come to you Senator Kasich.

RUBIO: And To have a president forcing the Israelis to the table is harmful to the Israeli and emboldens Israel’s enemies.

HEWITT: Thank you senator.

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. Trump a response and then we’ll go to Governor Kasich.

TRUMP: If I become president of the United States, one of the things that will be an absolute priority is number one, protection of Israel, but also seeing if a deal can be made, the toughest deal, the toughest negotiation there probably is of any kind no matter where you look, no matter how hard you look.

But I would like to give it a shot. Very, very pro-Israel, nobody more pro-Israel. But I would love to give it a shot. And I have to tell you this, Hugh. I have friend, Israelis, non-Israelis, people from New York City that happen to be Jewish and love Israel, and some are very tough people, every single one of them, they know it’s tough, but every single one of them wants to see if we could ever have peace in Israel.

And some believe it’s possible. It may not be, in which case we’ll find out. But it would be a priority if I become president to see what I could do.

HEWITT: Governor Kasich, do you agree the Israeli government that the Palestinian Authority is inciting this violence?

KASICH: Well, there’s no question. They were saying that the Israelis intended to go to the Dome of the Rock. And I mean, when you think about this, thank goodness we work with Israelis to give them the Iron Dome where they can protect themselves against all the missiles that were flying in. Could you imagine living in like Miami here and having people shooting missiles in?

Secondly, there was just an article the other day, Hugh, that I know you’re familiar with the Israelis are learning to train underground in combat because the Palestinians now, Hamas in particular, is digging these tunnels trying to get under Israel. They’re coming at them from above, they’re trying to come at them under the ground.

And I just have to tell you this, I don’t believe there is any long-term permanent peace solution. And I think pursuing that is the wrong thing to do. I believe that every day that we can stability in that region by supporting the Israelis and making sure they have the weapons and the security that they need with our 100 percent backing is the way to proceed in the Middle East in regard to Israel.


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