Rubio, Cruz Hit Trump for Neutrality on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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During the CNN Republican presidential debate Thursday, Donald Trump was attacked by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich for his neutrality on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Trump about his proposed neutral stance on the issue.

“You said this about the ongoing conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinians,” Blitzer said. “I’m quoting you now, ‘Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think it helps.’ How do you remain neutral when the U.S. considers Israel to be America’s closest ally in the Middle East?”

Trump started off by describing his good relationship with Israel over the years.

“There is nothing I would rather do than 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. Okay? But, it doesn’t help if I start saying I am very pro-Israel. Very pro, more than anybody on the 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 doing that as well, if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.”

This answer did not sit well with the other candidates, especially Marco Rubio.

Rubio responded by saying that not taking sides is still an anti-Israel stance, due to the make up of the situation between Israel and Palestine.

“I don’t know if Donald realizes this, it’s not his intent, perhaps, the position he has taken is an anti-Israel position,” Rubio said, “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 Israelis. Instead, here’s what the Palestinians do. They teach their 4-year-old children that killing Jews is a glorious thing. Here’s what Hamas does. They launch rocket terrorist attacks against 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 going to sit here and say ‘oh I’m not on either side.’ I will be on a side. I will be on Israeli’s side every single day because they are the only pro-American, free enterprise democracy in the Middle East.”

Citing Trump’s real estate business, Rubio continued, “he thinks the Palestinians are a real estate deal. The Palestinians are not a real estate deal. A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing with terrorists.”

Trump said that a deal is a deal.

Rubio ended this with saying, “Donald might able to build condos in the Palestinian areas, but this is not a real estate deal.”

Full exchange below:

WOLF BLITZER: Welcome back to the Republican presidential debate here at the University of Houston. Gentlemen, I want to turn our attention right now to key issues involving foreign policy and national security. And, Mr. Trump, I’ll begin with you. You said this about the ongoing conflict between the Israeli and the Palestinians. I’m quoting you now, “let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don’t want to say whose fault it is. i don’t think it helps.”

DONALD TRUMP: Right.

BLITZER: How do you remain neutral when the U.S. considers Israel to be America’s closest ally in the Middle East?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, I don’t think they do under President Obama because I think he’s treated Israel horribly. 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 received the Tree of Life Award and many of the greatest awards given by Israel. As president, however, there is nothing I would rather do than 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, i’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. But, it doesn’t help if I start saying I’m very pro Israel. More than anybody on the stage but it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors because would I love to did something with negotiating peace. Peace, finally for Israel, and for their neighbors. As a negotiators, I cannot doing that if I’m taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro Israel.

BLITZER: Senator Cruz.

TED CRUZ: This is another area on which Donald agrees with Hillary Clinton and which I disagree with them both strongly. Both Donald and Hillary Clinton want to be neutral 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 terrorists 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 that they are going to pay $7,000 to suicide bombers. Missing from Donald’s answer was anything he has done in his nearly 70 years of living defending Usrael. 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 stand with who has stood with israel when the heat was on.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: I can only say I’ve been a big contributor to Israel over the years. I’ve seen many, many rewards from Israel, have I a great relationship with Israel. I’m going to keep it that way. If I could bring peace, that would be a fantastic thing, it would be one of my greatest achiements as president.

BLITZER: Governor Kasich, I want you to weigh in.

JOHN KASICH: After 9/11 the Secretary of Defense called me in to help out with some things. I’ve been a supporter of Israel, strong supporter of israel longer than anyone on this stage. I’ve been standing with the Israelis for a very long time. I think the problem we have in foreign policy, right now, is we are not certain with who we stand with and our enemies are moving because they are not sure what we will do. It’s a very interesting development here within the last 24 hours. We said to the South Koreans we would give them the high altitude defense system. It really rattled the Chinese. For the first time we took positive action, the Chinese are beginning to take action against North Korea. When we stand firm and bring our allies together, that is the road forward.

BLITZER: Senator Rubio, what’s wrong with the U.S. being an honest broker in a negotiation as Mr. Trump is proposing?

MARCO RUBIO: Because I don’t know if Donald realizes this, it’s not his intent, perhaps, the position he’s taken is an anti-Israel position. And here’s why. Becuase you cannot be an honest broker in a despute 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 Israelis. instead, here’s what the Palestineans do. they teach their4-year-old children that killing jews is a glorious thing. Here’s what Hamas does. They laucnh rocket terrorist attacks against Israel on an ongoing basis. The bottom line is a deal between Israel and the Palestineans given the current make up of the Palestineans 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 oging to sit here and say ‘oh I’m not on either side.’ I will be on a side. I will be on Israeli’s side every single day because they are the only pro American, free enterprise democracy in the Middle East.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump.

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’ve watched him melt down and it’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.

RUBIO: He thinks the Palestinians are a real estate deal. The Palestinians are not a real estate deal.

TRUMP: A deal is a deal.

RUBIO: A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing 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 able to build condos in the Palestinian areas, but this is not a real estate deal.

TRUMP: He will never be able to do it. I think I may able to do it, though I are say this, probably the toughest deal any kind is that particular deal.

BLITZER: Let’s move on to talk about North Korea.

Chandler Gill

Chandler Gill   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Chandler Gill is a Media Analyst for the Free Beacon. Before joining the Free Beacon, she interned at the Heritage Foundation. Chandler went to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and studied Political Science. She was raised in Wassenaar, The Netherlands. In her free time, Chandler enjoys reading and walking around the D.C. area. Her twitter handle is @chandlergillDC.

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