Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee contradicted U.S. precedents Tuesday when he declared the West Bank to be part of Israel during his visit to the country to discuss the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.
While at a West Bank settlement, the former Arkansas governor told reporters, "if you're going to visit Israel, you should visit all of Israel, and that would include Judea and Samaria" -- the biblical name for the West Bank. Israel acquired the land during a 1967 war with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, but Palestinians consider the West Bank to be illegally occupied territory. The United States contends that the settlements there are "illegitimate and unhelpful," but refrains from forthrightly calling them illegal in respect to international law.
Huckabee's visit to the settlement, Shilo, was part of his fundraising campaign, speaking as a guest of Binyamin Regional Council.
The West Bank remarks are not Huckabee's only comments about the Middle East that have drawn criticism recently. He also stated that he stands by his controversial remarks about how U.S. President Barack Obama trusting the Iran government "will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven," referring to the Nazi's use of gas chambers during World War II to exterminate millions of European Jews.
Several organizations spoke out against Huckabee's Iran nuclear deal statements, including the Anti-Defamation League, condemning them as "unaccaeptable."
— Jonathan Hulet (@HuletNation) August 18, 2015
“Whatever one’s views of the nuclear agreement with Iran – and we have been critical of it, noting that there are serious unanswered questions that need to be addressed – comments such as those by Mike Huckabee suggesting the president is leading Israel to another Holocaust are completely out of line and unacceptable,” ADL’s National Director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening.”
Next on his itinerary, Huckabee plans to address the Waldorf Astoria in Jerusalem Wednesday at a press conference.