Thursday, August 20, 2009
By: Josiah Ryan and Herb Keinon
The Jerusalem Post
Former US presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said Tuesday there is no room for a Palestinian state “in the middle of the Jewish homeland” and that Israel should be able to build settlements wherever it wants.
Huckabee’s opposition to a Palestinian state puts him at odds with the accepted wisdom of both Democrats and Republicans – and to some degree even with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has come out in favor of a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Speaking to a small group of foreign reporters in Jerusalem, Huckabee, seen as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, said the international community should consider establishing a Palestinian state some place else.
“The question is should the Palestinians have a place to call their own? Yes, I have no problem with that. Should it be in the middle of the Jewish homeland? That`s what I think has to be honestly assessed as virtually unrealistic,” he said.
The politician, a Southern Baptist preacher and a two-time former governor of Arkansas, praised Israel for giving Muslims access to Jerusalem`s Dome of the Rock – also the site of the ancient Jewish temples – even though the presence of a mosque there “could be considered an affront.”
“Israel is a place where they`re going to allow other cultures and religions, but don`t ask the Jewish people whose homeland it is to completely yield over their ability to live within the context of their country,” said Huckabee.
US President Barack Obama is calling for a complete freeze on settlement activity on lands the Palestinians claim for their would-be state.
Huckabee is being hosted by the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a group seeking to bolster the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem. Their activities, some of them funded by American millionaire Irving Moskowitz, are aimed at blocking the division of the city as part of any future peace deal.
Huckabee said he welcomed a demonstration Monday night by anti-settlement protesters outside the Shepherd Hotel, the site of a planned housing project in east Jerusalem which the Obama administration has demanded be stopped and where the Moskowitz family hosted Huckabee for dinner.
He called the freedom to protest an “affirmation of everything that is wonderful and great about Israel and the United States.”