heard in jerusalem

Mike Huckabee: I hope White House will support West Bank annexation

Former governor says his daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 'very well may' run for Arkansas governor

Amy Spiro

Former Governor Mike Huckabee speaks in Jerusalem on July 15.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee had nothing but praise for President Donald Trump’s approach to Israel, speaking to a small group of reporters in Jerusalem on Monday morning.  

“I could not be more grateful and prouder than I am of the president for the manner in which he has supported Israel and shown his understanding of the value of our relationship,” Huckabee told a press breakfast at the King David Hotel. “He has far exceeded my hopes and expectations… he’s doing exactly what he ought to do. He’s taken the steps that the United States can take. Recognizing Jerusalem, bringing the embassy here, and then also… [his] declaration on the Golan Heights.” 

The former governor said that he has had conversations with Trump about the possibility of annexing West Bank settlements, which he calls “communities in Judea and Samaria,” but he would not reveal the president’s comments on the issue. 

Asked by Jewish Insider if the White House’s position reflects that of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who told the New York Times last month that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank, Huckabee said: “I hope so.” 

Huckabee said he was coincidentally in Israel last year when Trump arrived to celebrate the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, and asked the president about his decision. 

“I asked the president face to face, ‘What made you finally do this?’ And his answer was profound. It was classic Trump,” Huckabee said. “He just shrugged his shoulders and he said, ‘Well, I said I was going to do it, and it’s the right thing to do.’ End of story.” 

Huckabee said the recent Jared Kushner-led peace conference in Bahrain proved that the Palestinians are not a willing partner for peace. 

“It becomes increasingly clear to the world that the Palestinians have no interest in reaching some type of conclusion,” he said. “They’ve said no to every single proposal that has been put on the table… there is no legitimate path that the Palestinians are willing to take that would bring some resolution.” 

The former governor also spoke about his daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who recently stepped down as the White House Press Secretary and has reportedly been mulling running for governor of Arkansas. 

Huckabee said that Sanders left the position for three reasons: “Scarlett, Huck and George,” her three young children. 

“I can tell you that she did not really want to leave the job,” he said. “She loved it. She loves the president. She’s anxious to tell what she considers to be the real story in the Trump White House. A story that hasn’t really been told very much. And that is the story of a president who has extraordinary instincts and carried them out.” 

Nevertheless, he said, there “were some irrecoverable mommy moments that she realized she just couldn’t continue to miss… it was very painful for her.”

Huckabee said Sanders “very well may” run for governor, “but she’s not going to make any decision about that for a while. The race is not until 2022 so she’s got some time.”  

Huckabee was in town as the guest of the National Council of Young Israel, for a trip showing “solidarity” with Israel. The former governor said he travels to Israel approximately five times a year, and has been coming regularly since his first trip in 1973 as a teenager. 

“Bibi told me that if I spend any more time here, I would have to start paying income tax,” he joked.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.