Huckabee reemerges – in Israeli settlements
The former, and perhaps future, US presidential candidate criticized Obama's policy, comparing rules about where Jews could live to racial segregation.
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"Our primary concern ought to be whether or not Iran is weaponizing nuclear material, not whether 20 peaceful Jewish families happen to be moving into a neighborhood in their own country," said Huckabee, whose three-day trip is focused mainly on settlements.
Huckabee also compared the talk of having Jerusalem partitioned so that it would be under the control of two governments, one Israeli and one Palestinian, to the US and Canada trying to share control of Detroit. "It's inconceivable that two sovereign governments claim control over the same piece of real estate," he said. "I don't know how it's workable."
Daniel Luria, the executive director of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, led Huckabee around several of the controversial East Jerusalem sites where Jews are in the process of being settled. These included a large multistory complex called Maale Zeitim in the Arab neighborhood of Ras el-Amud and projects in the City of David, part of the neighborhood of Silwan.
"Peace can be achieved when Jews and Arabs live together under Jewish sovereignty," Mr. Luria told the Monitor. "The concept of East Jerusalem simply doesn't exist today," he added. A political solution to turn part of the city over to Palestinian control would mean having "an Al Qaeda-Hamas entity on our back doorstep," said Luria, who was cited in the center-left Israeli paper Haaretz on Monday as saying an estimated 60 percent of Ateret Cohenim's funding came from US donors.
Huckabee's motives and aims questioned
Several antisettlement groups held a protest outside Shepherd Hotel dinner, which was closed to the general public and the media but was expected to include several right-wing members of the Knesset and of Netanyahu's Cabinet.
Ir Amim, an Israeli group that opposes the work of Ateret Cohenim and other settlement efforts inside Jerusalem, criticized Huckabee's visit as an opportunistic trip that would frustrate attempts to reach a two-state solution.
"This strange dinner is an outcome of an alliance established between the rightist, extremist association whose declared goal is to prevent a future political settlement, and an American politician who is hoping to gain political capital at the expense of Jerusalem's stability and the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Ir Amim said in a statement. "It is not appropriate for the Israeli ministers and members of Knesset to participate in such a bizarre celebration, and to allow a foreign politician to gain questionable political capital at the expense of the immediate interests of Jerusalem residents and the Israeli public in general."