Former US presidential hopeful and possible future presidential candidate Mike Huckabee attended an event at the disputed Shepherd Hotel in eastern Jerusalem on Monday to voice his support for continued Jewish construction in all parts of the Holy Land.
"It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want," Huckabee said during a visit to isolated Jewish neighborhoods in Arab-dominated parts of Jerusalem earlier in the day.
His appearance at the Shepherd Hotel later in the evening was a direct affront to the Middle East peace policies of US President Barack Obama, who specifically demanded that Israel halt plans by the hotel's Jewish owners to renovate the property.
The hotel was originally built by the anti-Semitic and Nazi-aliged former Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini. When Israel reunited Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War, it seized control of what was by then an unused structure, and eventually sold it off to its current owners.
The hotel has become symbolic of Obama's focus on reversing the Jewish presence in areas claimed by the Palestinian Arabs as a means of reaching a peace settlement.
Huckabee's presence at the hotel set the stage for large dueling protests by right-wing and left-wing Israeli groups. The right-wing groups, accompanied by several Knesset members, accused Obama of being racist over his position that Jews should be restricted in where they can live. The left-wingers labeled their right-wing countrymen as "fascists" for, as they see it, taking land that belongs to others.