(photo credit: AP [file])
Once and possibly future US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took the Obama administration’s Middle East policy to task on Tuesday, saying, “One of the disturbing things” over the past year has been Washington putting all the pressure on Israel, and none on the Palestinians.This
time his itinerary was much more conventional, with the seven-day trip
focusing on Jerusalem, the Galilee and a trip to the Golan Heights on
Saturday. Huckabee met during his visit with Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
“What possible incentive do the Palestinians have to come to the table and make concessions, because the only direct policy from the administration has been to order Israel to freeze not some, but all, the settlements. That seems a little one sided,” Huckabee told The Jerusalem Post.
Huckabee, who arrived on Sunday to lead a large group of Christian tourists along with Pat Boone, a leading US entertainer in the 1950s and 1960s who has become a leading Christian supporter of Israel, said the Obama administration’s approach to the conflict – and what he said was its one-sided pressure on Israel – was a distinct break from the polices of most previous US administrations.
Huckabee said that settlement construction, paradoxically, could encourage the Palestinians back to the table, because of concern that if they don’t return, there may not be anything later to negotiate about.
Huckabee was last in Israel in August, as a guest of Ateret Cohanim – an organization that purchases buildings from east Jerusalem Arabs in a bid to strengthen the Jewish presence there, for a visit that was characterized by The Associated Press at the time as “provocative” because he visited the Shepherd Hotel in Jerusalem, Har Bracha overlooking Nablus and the unauthorized settlement outpost at Givot Olam, also near Nablus.
Huckabee, who ran in the
2008 Republican primaries, is a former governor of Arkansas who
currently hosts a Fox News show that is the highest rated US cable news
program show on the weekends.
Huckabee, considered one of the
top contenders for the 2012 Republican nomination, said he has not yet
decided to throw his hat into the ring, and would likely decide after
the mid-term elections in November.
“Running for office is punishing,” he said.
Benjamin Spier contributed to this report.