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Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani argued over Israel during a debate.
During the debate on Thursday night, sponsored by Fox News and held in South Carolina, Paul argued that the United States should keep out of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Middle East in general. At one point he argued that one problem with America's support for Israel is that it ends up robbing Jerusalem of its sovereignty.
"In many ways, we treat Israel as a stepchild. We do not give them the responsibility that they deserve. We undermine their national sovereignty. We don't let them design their own peace," Paul said. He added: "And I just don't see any purpose in not treating Israel in an adult fashion. I think they would be a lot better off. I think they, one time in the '80s, took care of a nuclear reactor in Iraq. I stood up and defended Israel for this. Nobody else did at that time."
"The reality is that Israel is a close and strong ally of the United States," Giuliani said. "America has only a few extremely reliable allies, special relationships. The defense of Israel is a - critical importance to the United States of America, and it goes much deeper than just tactical things."
Here are the Israel snippets from the debate:
MR. GOLER: Thank you, sir.
Mayor Giuliani, President Bush is in the Middle East right now, laying the groundwork for a Palestinian state. And he thinks he can be successful this year. If so, a Giuliani administration would introduce a new era in US-Mideast relations.
I wonder, sir, how you would keep a Palestinian state from becoming a breeding ground for anti-American terrorists.
MR. GIULIANI: Well, I think the most important thing is the steps that the Palestinian Authority now takes, and how realistic they are, to accomplish at least three things. First of all, to make it clear that it will accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
Number two, to forgo terrorism, first as a statement of policy and then in reality - something that has to be tested. You know, Ronald Reagan had a theory of trust but verify. So we get the statement of policy that they''ve - they will forgo terrorism.
MR. GOLER: All right. Thank you, sir. Congressman Paul, can we go back to the Middle East? You have said the United States should not be trying to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Should the president even be there today, sir?
REP. PAUL: Well, if you followed my advice, yes, we - we wouldn't be there. We've been doing that for a good many years and it hasn't seemed to come to success. No, I think if we weren't there there''d be more incentives to come to a peaceful agreement. We support both sides, you know, not only with the Palestinians but the Lebanese and all the Arab nations. We support Israel, and we try to have this balance. But I think it'd be much better to have a balance by being out of there, and I think there would be a greater incentive for Israel and the Palestinian and all the Arab nations to come together and talk because I think we get in the way too often of these, and besides it's costing us a lot of money, it's costing us lives now, and it's time that we come to the point where we believe the world can solve some of their problems without us.
And also we're out of money. We can't do it any longer. We're going bankrupt, and the empires of the world have always ended badly through economic terms. So whether there are peace agreements over there - I mean, for instance if we would stop all aid over there we would stop three times as much aid as Israel gets to the Arab nations.
Why do we arm the Arab nations and they're the enemies of Israel? But we continue to do that. So why don't we trade with everybody and talk with them, and there's a greater incentive to work these problems out.
I think if we'd have been out of there a lot sooner there may well have been a much different settlement after the Kuwait invasion because Israel was quite capable of working with moderate Arab nations. They tried to. None of the Arab nations wanted Saddam Hussein in Kuwait, and I think they could have taken care of Saddam
Hussein back then and save all the mess that we have now because I think there are so many unintended consequences and way too much blowback. (Applause.)
HUCKABEE: But in my final seconds, I'd like to just - with all due respect to Congressman Paul, the issue of whether the president should be in the Middle East comes to something that I think we've got to recognize. We've got one true ally in the Middle East, and that's Israel. It's a tiny nation. I've been there nine times. I've literally traveled from Dan to Beersheba, and I understand something of that nation and the vulnerability of it. And for us to give the world the impression that we would stand by if it were under attack and simply say it's not our problem would be recklessly irresponsible on our part. And if I were president, you can rest assured that we would not let an ally be annihilated by those enemies which surround it, who have openly stated it is their direct intention to destroy that nation. It would not happen under my presidency. (Applause.)
MR. HUME: Congressman Paul, 30 seconds.
REP. PAUL: In many ways, we treat Israel as a stepchild. We do not give them the responsibility that they deserve. We undermine their national sovereignty. We don't let them design their own peace treaties with their neighbors. And then we turn around and say that when you want to do that, or you want to defend your borders, they have to check it out with us.
I think Israel would be a lot safer. I made the point earlier. We give three times as much money to the Arabs. Why do we arm their enemies? So if you care about Israel, you should be against all the weapons that go to the Arab nations. (Cheers, applause.)
And I just don't see any purpose in not treating Israel in an adult fashion. I think they would be a lot better off. I think they, one time in the '80s, took care of a nuclear reactor in Iraq. I stood up and defended Israel for this. Nobody else did at that time.
But we need to recognize: They deserve their sovereignty, just as we deserve our sovereignty. I believe if they assume more responsibility, there would be more peace there, and that there would be a lot less threat. Besides, we don't have any money to do this.
(Cross talk, cheers, applause.)
MR. HUME: We'll extend this quickly. 30 seconds, Mayor Giuliani, then Senator Thompson. Then we've got to move on.
MR. GIULIANI: I think the idea that Israel is a stepchild of the United States is totally absurd. I've been to Israel very often, as the governor has. The prime minister of Israel is a very close friend of mine. The former prime minister is a very close friend of mine.
The reality is that Israel is a close and strong ally of the United States.
America has only a few extremely reliable allies, special relationships. The defense of Israel is a - critical importance to the United States of America, and it goes much deeper than just tactical things.
MR. CAMERON: Mayor Giuliani, in recent weeks Senator McCain has suggested that your leadership in the aftermath of 9/11 doesn't quite constitute national security credentials. Insofar as it's generally agreed that one of the challenges of our time is the war on terrorism, what equips you, what experience and skills do you bring that would make you a better commander in chief than the senator from Arizona?
MR. GIULIANI: Well, I guess the first point I wanted to make on what they were talking about is that the kind of change that the Democrats want to bring about is to take the change out of your pocket. (Laughter.) That's basically - that - basically change is either good or badâ€¦.
Now, on my foreign policy experience, which is what you asked me about, I've had foreign policy experience going back to 19 - the 1970s, when I served on a committee in the - in the Ford administration on terrorism. I negotiated agreements with governments over illegal immigration. I negotiated agreements with governments over prisoners.
When I had to make decisions about foreign policy, I made decisions. I threw Arafat out of the U.N. 50 celebration, and I made sure Castro wouldn't come to that celebration. And when I was confronted by an Arab prince who wanted to give us $10 million for the Twin Towers fund, I said no, we're not going to take it, because he wanted us to question American foreign policy, in particular our relationship with Israel.
As mayor of New York, I was involved in foreign policy issues all the time. And the difference between - (timer bell rings) - being an executive and being a legislator is, you're not just one of a hundred. You have to actually make decisions, and there are consequences to your decisions. And many of them were in this area of either foreign policy or related to it.
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