Donald Trump’s presidency would be an extension of President Obama’s two terms as it relates to the U.S.-Israel relationship, Rubio’s foreign policy advisor Dan Senor suggested on Friday.
Against the backdrop of global threats and the BDS movement, “the question is does America want a president — do Republicans want to nominate a president who’s effectively going to extend the last seven and a half years in its approach to Israel,” Senor said during a press conference headed by Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio at Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday.
“If you have historically locked arms with Israel, there has been no evenhandedness,” he explained. “If you want to end this, that means you are moving away from Israel. You cannot say in this day and age, and the pressure Israel is under, that you are both pro-Israel, you are Israel’s best friend, and that you are going to be neutral. Being neutral means you are moving away from your friends.”
Senor remarked that he would never have thought that he would see the day that the leading Republican candidate for president that is effectively arguing for “the extension of the last seven and a half years of the Obama’s agenda of neutrality on Israel.”
The event comes a few days before the winner-take-all Florida primary which could either help Trump solidify his lead or enable Rubio and the remaining candidates to catch up or, at least, deny Trump the 1,237-threshold of delegates needed to cling to the nomination. Rubio is counting on Jewish voters in his home state to help him win the make or break Republican primary. “A vote for John Kasich or Ted Cruz in Florida is a vote for Donald Trump,” the Florida Senator said.
During the press conference, Rubio called Trump’s approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict an anti-Israeli position. “When a leading candidate for president says that if he’s elected president, he will not take sides, the implications are real,” Rubio said. “This is a candidate. Imagine if he were president. Presidents do not get a honeymoon period when it comes to foreign policy.”
“Donald Trump is not ready for the test,” he declared.
Rubio also said that the conditions don’t exist for the U.S. to pursue peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians based on the two-state solution. “I just don’t see the conditions right now for that,” he said. “Two-state solutions involves the idea that there are two parties that are willing to agree to that, and there are not. I think Israel is willing to be incredibly accommodating and have proven their willingness to do so. The Palestinian Authority has never shown any willingness, in fact, they have turned down some very generous offers in the past.”
The Republican presidential hopeful also promised not to criticize Israel’s expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, rather leave it up to Israel’s democratic process. “What I am not going to do is criticize Israel’s positions,” he emphasized.”If I have a disagreement with Israeli officials, it will be shared with them in private, not in a press conference that undermines their ability to defend themselves.”