America has no business dictating terms on issues of vital national security to Israel, US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, said in the Knesset Monday.
He placed the blame on the Palestinians for the recent failure of peace talks, saying “the principal impediment to peace is that, to date, the Palestinians have refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and have refused to renounce terror.
“Unless and until the Palestinians can agree on those very basic starting blocks, no lasting peace solution is likely,” he stated.
Cruz described US President Barack Obama administration’s approach to Israel-Palestinian talks as “to criticize and harangue and pressure the Israeli government.”
“The US should stand with Israel,” the Texan senator, who sported black cowboy boots and a Lone Star belt-buckle, said.
“Terms of peace should not be dictated by outsiders,” Cruz explained. “America has a role facilitating negotiations, helping bring the parties together and providing a fair and neutral forum where booth sides can engage, if they wish, in good-faith negotiations, but any decisions about the terms of a peace deal should be made by Israel and the Palestinians.”
Settlements, for example, are “a question for the government of Israel,” said Cruz, who doesn’t “think it’s America’s role to try to impose a policy about where Israeli settlements are located and where they’re not.”
The senator was on a two-day trip to Israel, followed by Poland, Ukraine and Estonia, which is thought to be an attempt to boost his foreign policy bona-fides. He met with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) in the Knesset.
Cruz maintained his call for US Secretary of State John Kerry to resign earlier this year for using the term “apartheid” in a doomsday prediction of what will happen to Israel if it does not make peace with the Palestinians.
“For the secretary of state to use a loaded term like ‘apartheid’ with regard to Israel was grotesquely inaccurate and deeply harmful,” Cruz said.
“Those words will be repeated by enemies of Israel, by Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran, and all of them will say ‘this is not our characterization, these are the words of the US secretary of state.’” According to Cruz, Kerry’s comments were “part of a long string of foreign policy blunders, which have consistently alienated and abandoned our friends and allies, and embraced and appeased our enemies.”
One of the ways the Obama administration does that is to ignore laws about sending funds to foreign countries, Cruz explained, expressing concern that the president will find ways to continue to fund the Palestinian Authority despite the expected Fatah- Hamas coalition government.
US law forbids funding terrorist organizations, including Hamas.
“As long as Hamas embraces terrorism, they should not be receiving US taxpayer dollars.
Whether congress as a whole will agree is still an open question,” Cruz said. “It’s always a good prediction that people will look for loopholes, particularly those who want to continue funding regardless of changed circumstances.”
Cruz pointed to a law forbidding the US from sending funds to countries that have undergone a military coup, with which “the administration refused to comply and actively sought loopholes to get around it.
“One can make a powerful argument that it is a matter of public policy, supporting the new Egyptian government is far more in America’s interest than supporting the Muslim Brotherhood government,” the senator said, “but in my view, if we were going to do that, we should have changed the law.
“If the administration is willing to ignore current US law with regard to Egypt, no one should be surprised to see them willing to do the same with regard to Hamas,” he stated.
The senator added that he is not sure Republicans will fight against funding Hamas.
On Iran, Cruz said he agrees with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the outcome of recent negotiations is “a historic mistake and a very bad deal.”
“The threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities is the gravest national security threat faced by Israel and by the US,” he stated.
Cruz called to immediately reinstate and strengthen sanctions and make clear that they will only be lifted when Iran disassembles its centrifuges and hands over its enriched uranium.
“If there’s one principle from time immemorial it is that bullies and tyrants don’t respect weakness,” he said.
“Appeasement is a foolhardy strategy with regard to Iran and the president of the United States should make unequivocally clear that under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire nuke weapons capability. It will either stop trying to develop that capability or we will stop it for them.”
Cruz said he is committed foremost to restoring American leadership in the world, saying that since Obama was elected, it had receded from that role and Iran, Russia and China had stepped in instead.
“The world has become a much more dangerous place,” Cruz warned. “The most frequent thing I hear from our allies across the globe is ‘Where is America? What happened to American leadership?’” Cruz posited that the US should “stand by its friends and allies and be resolute with those who would do us harm.”
As for Sheldon Adelson, owner of Israel’s most popular newspaper Yisrael Hayom and a major donor to GOP candidates and to Netanyahu, Cruz smiled when asked why he was not invited to the so-called “Adelson Primary” – to give a speech at an event the casino magnate attended and court his support for the 2016 primary.
“I like and respect Sheldon a great deal,” Cruz replied. “At this point, I’m not running for anything. I’m serving in the US Senate.”
Cruz also deftly dodged an issue that made New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stumble at the “Adelson Primary”: What does he call the land east of Jerusalem and west of the Jordan River?
“I’ll leave geography to the mapmakers,” Cruz quipped.