Huckabee in Israel: Jerusalem cannot be divided

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Former US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee was in Israel this week as the guest of a Jewish organization that is working to reclaim Arab-dominated parts of Jerusalem.

During a visit to several small nascent Jewish neighborhoods on the eastern side of the capital, Huckabee told reporters that from a historical, legal and logical viewpoint, Jerusalem must remain undivided under Israeli rule.

"It is possible for different cultures and people to live together, but it is not necessarily very realistic to expect two governments to operate on the same street," said Huckabee in a not-so-veiled criticism of the US-driven peace process that envisions an Palestinian Arab state with half of Jerusalem as its capital.

Beyond Jerusalem, Huckabee lamented the very idea of Israel making territorial compromises to those who had sworn to destroy it.

"It is a historic reality that...the entire land, was originally intended to be a homeland for the Jewish people," said Huckabee, while not rejecting the idea of a sovereign state somewhere else for the Palestinian Arabs.

"There are many, many places where a homeland for the Palestinians could in fact take place that would be consistent with their roots," he said. "But there is only one place on earth where the Jewish people could have a homeland that is consistent with their roots."

The former Arkansas governor also visited other hotspots around Israel like the rocket-battered southern town of Sderot. Huckabee said that Israel's best hope as far as America's backing is concerned is for fellow Republican John McCain to beat Democratic rival Barack Obama in the upcoming US presidential election.

"McCain has a much stronger view of how Israel must protect itself. There is no naivete on his part about the threat posed by Iran's nuclear program," said Huckabee in a swipe at Obama's stated intention of engaging Iran in formal dialogue and shelving the military option for dealing with the Islamic Republic's defiant nuclear program.

Huckabee also assured Israel that if elected, one of McCain's first moves will be to finally comply with the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by Congress in 1995 by moving the US embassy to Israel's capital.

Huckabee's whirlwind 48-hour visit was sponsored by the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, the US arm of Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli organization that works unceasingly to purchase Arab-owned properties in Jerusalem and repopulate them with Jews.

Many in Israel saw Huckabee's visit as the first step in a bid to be chosen as McCain's running mate, though Huckabee himself denied that he has vice presidential aspirations. Nevertheless, with strong support among America's Evangelical Christian electorate, Huckabee's name is being tossed around by not a few Republican groups as the best choice for McCain.

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