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February 26, 2016 3:54 pm

Donald Trump Counters Criticism of ‘Neutral’ Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Stance (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Boaz Bismuth / JNS.org

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Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

Everything has already been said about Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination: that the GOP establishment is wary of him, that he intentionally makes provocative declarations, that he is nothing more than a passing fad, and that he will ultimately fail. Yet in the meantime, the billionaire businessman from New York has won three consecutive primaries/caucuses in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.

How did this happen?

“First of all, I think that it happened because we had too many Republican candidates—17—and now there are fewer,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), one of Trump’s opponents in the GOP race, told me in Las Vegas. “The fact that there are fewer candidates makes victory possible for us. In a one-on-one race with Trump, I would win by 16 percent—I would get 56% of the vote versus 40 percent that would go to him. Donald has a broad floor with a low ceiling. He won’t get past 35-40 percent support and that means that 60-70 percent of the Republican voters don’t want him as the candidate to go up against Hillary Clinton in November. That is why one of the objectives of the primaries, besides selecting a nominee and eliminating the other candidates, is to have one-on-one debates, and I hope to face Trump in a one-on-one debate, which I will have to win.”

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But the latest debate, held Feb. 25 in Houston, featured five candidates. Both Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) targeted Trump’s stated belief that he should not take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I’ve received…many of the greatest awards given by Israel. As president, however, there’s nothing that I would rather do [than] bring peace to Israel and its neighbors. I may not be successful in doing it. It’s probably the toughest negotiation of anywhere in the world, of any kind, OK? But, it doesn’t help if I start saying I’m very pro-Israel, very pro-Israel, more than anybody on this stage. It doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors [of Israel],” Trump said during the debate.

Countering Trump, Rubio argued that one “cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith. The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace, very generous offers from the Israelis. Instead, here’s what the Palestinians do. They teach their 4-year-old children that killing Jews is a glorious thing….The bottom line is, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, given the current makeup of the Palestinians, is not possible.’’

Cruz compared Trump’s so-called “neutral” stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the views of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“Let me be clear, if I’m president, America will stand unapologetically with the nation of Israel,” Cruz said.

What is Trump’s response to such criticism? Before the Houston debate, but after he had already made similar remarks about a “neutral” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I sat down with him for the following interview.

Boaz Bismuth: Mr. Trump, yesterday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tried to question your support for Israel. How is his commitment to Israel stronger than yours?

Donald Trump: “My friendship with Israel is stronger than any other candidate’s. I want to make one thing clear: I want to strike a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It is what I aspire to do. Peace is possible, even if it is the most difficult agreement to achieve. As far as I understand, Israel is also interested in a peace deal. I’m not saying I’ll succeed, or even that an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is within reach, but I want to try. But in order for an agreement to happen, the Palestinians need to show interest. It’s a little difficult to reach an agreement when the other side doesn’t really want to talk to you.

“Don’t get confused there in Israel: I am currently your biggest friend. My daughter is married to a Jew who is an enthusiastic Israel supporter, and I have taken part in many Israel Day Parades. My friendship with Israel is very strong.”

This week you spoke very negatively about the Iran nuclear deal. You even said that in some cases, violating deals is permissible.

“This deal was the worst deal that Israel could have gotten. Think about it: Beyond the deal itself, Iran also received $150 billion. And to think that they signed that deal without discussing it with Israel! As far as I’m concerned, this deal is the worst thing that ever happened to Israel. There is a clause in it that stipulates protecting Iran’s nuclear facilities should they come under attack. You have to read it to believe it. It may very well be the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. I don’t understand what it means, that America will attack Israel if Israel attacks Iran? That’s ridiculous.”

Many presidents have promised to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. What is your position on the issue?

“I can only say that I like the idea.”

I’ve been covering the U.S. elections for many years now. The pundits said that you wouldn’t run, then they said that you would crash and burn, then they said that the voters wouldn’t vote the way they said they would in the polls. In reality, you are crushing everyone. Let’s play the pundit for a moment—explain the Trump phenomenon to me.

“The pundits misread the intense anger that exists in the U.S. today. No one foresaw the anger of the American people—toward the administration, toward the bad deals that the U.S. has signed, like the trade agreements and the Iran nuclear deal. What do you think? That the American people liked the deal? The deal with Iran is also one of the reasons for the great anger that exists in the U.S. today. It was a terrible mistake. And look at the way the administration is handling the military: We are not winning any wars. America is not winning, and America always needs to win. It is important for America, and it is important for the world.

“President [Barack] Obama isn’t good. For Israel, he has been the worst president in history. Look at how frustrated Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu was every time he visited Washington. All of Netanyahu’s claims are correct; he is 100 percent right. Is this any way to treat our friends? I will make sure that changes.”

Am I speaking with the next president of the United States?

“There is still a long way to go, but we are on the right track. If I make it to the White House, you will have a true friend there.”

Thank you for the interview, Mr. Trump.

“Shalom.”

This article is part of the exclusive syndication agreement between JNS.org and Israel Hayom.

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  • Gary Pence

    I was just trying to get the facts on what Donald Trump meant in a neutral stance with the Palestine/Israeli conflict. He apparently implies that he must try a peaceful process first. But, I do not think that any United States president should allow any more violence on Israel from this opportune bully town called Palestine. GAZA or any where in Israel has never, ever been a right or the RIGHT thing to tolerate and allow these hostile people of Palestine to live any where in Israel. I think, a one time bi-partisan basic effort will be plenty of effort, historically speaking, to bring a peace notification deal to Palestine, but, not to Israel; as Israel is not the problem. This continual invading Palestine is the problem. This writer thinks in consideration of all the overwhelming ancient, barbaric hostilities against the peaceful nation of Israel, that all of GAZA should be extradited to another more remote location hundreds of miles from Israel if a true and quick resolve for peace is not agreed. Donald Trump will do the right and effective thing in this quite ridiculous matter, for he is a people person and is not of a social class upbringing or heart where he relates his wealth and success to being superior to his fellowmen. HE’S ONE OF US…. WHOEVER YOU ARE

  • Sam Harris

    BREAKING NEWS: Trump doesn’t have a problem with David Duke!

  • Dani

    I like his honesty and simplicity despite the fact of being chauvinistic. He is a good friend of Israel but still i would not grant him access to the red buttons.

  • N. Kamal

    If Mr. Trump becomes the Republican presidential nominee that would prove the Republican Party is intellectually bankrupt, and if he would win the general election and become the next president of USA, that would prove USA as a whole is intellectually bankrupt.

    • Daniel Wencel

      When I read such brainless platitudes against Trump, then I start thinking that maybe I should vote for him. These pre-canned, spin and propaganda slanders do not improve the debate and search for the best candidate. Trump indeed is vulgar and bombastic, but he has sound fiscal and business ideas and is a centrist on most social issues. Not too bad. Way better than socialist Bernie Sanders or corrupted Hilary.

  • sue whitney

    I like Trump and I pray he will act in favor of Israel if he’s
    elected President. Certainly he will be far better than Obama who is anti-Israel,and anti-American and works against legislation that will benefit the middle class and the poor.

  • Jack Zeller

    After a slew of hypomanic egocentric messianic thinking Presidential peace nicks, you would think that Donald Trump would know better than to envision himself as yet another. So called peace talks means bribing Palestinian authority. The latter are intoxicated with bribes. Palestinians kill with impunity or backstage cheering from VIP who talk about a non existent apartheid instead of Israel’s democracy.

    I wonder if Trump has the capacity to really know what he wants after the bluster and name calling is over. Rubio and Cruz live in the fact based world which is the only one for a President.

    Both Rubio and Cruz can beat Hillary. Trump will lose. Max and Sidney Blumenthal, Hillary’s friends and paid advisor, self hating Jews, will be her advisors. James Baker but even worse.

    Trump needs a mouth taping, not the Presidency.

  • Jonah

    We do not need fancy debaters that are funded by special interests, those same special interests that advised Bush to force Israel to give up Gaza in order to appease oil interests in the Middle East. We need a master, someone with a doctoral degree in the art of the deal who has his heart in the right place when it comes to Israel. These gotsha debaters do not have the intestinal fortitude Trump has, we need someone who not only has his heart in the right place but someone who can throw a spear and hit its mark. T. Boone Pickens could have had us free from the financial burden on our economy…overnight. Our current president vehemently opposed his ideas in order that Islam could raise massive amounts of money to fund the jihadist takeover of the world…the caliphate. Now that Iran can and will produce a nuke the priority of the White House will take on a new camelian Personna. We have so many terrorists in America massive shootings and killings will start occurring on a daily basis…followed by dirty bombs. People will become numb towards the attacks as our media will use prime time to tout the image of Jenner. America is doomed without Trump and Israel will face a much more turbulent future without him as President. Trump is the last Trump. I will stage emphatically if the White a house sees that Trump could win they will start a war with Russia. My advise to Israel is stay out of it.

  • laura burkhart

    I am glad he speaks clearly, in support for Israel. You better believe Americans are angry. The Iran deal makes America look like Hitlers friend.
    But… I know many, who support Israel. One year ago…when Mr
    Netanyahu came and spoke to Congress…I wept through his entire speak. And you wonder why Obama doesn’t like him. He received how many standing ovations? 49? But then people in Israel condemned him for coming! Shame on you! We needed him…just for the hope…just to show the world…that men like Netanyahu still exist. They don’t in the USA, sadly. If they do, they aren’t working for the USA!
    Israel, we love you. Never give up. Your enemies…all of them are trembling!

  • I was a little hesitant, regarding Trump, after reading this interview, I’m with him allthe way !

  • Ibrahim Ibn Ibrahim

    I will surely vote for Trump! The world needs him. I do not hate or even dislike Palestinians or Arabs for that matter., I never can do that. But I think they are being rather unreasonable in dealing with the Israelis. Co-existence in universal brotherhood is the way to, nothing else

  • Ephraim

    He really is Israel’s best bet. He is the only candidate who could beat Hillary. Cruz and Rubio are far too extreme on too many issues to get enough votes to defeat Hillary. As she has already rigged the nominating process, she will be, unfortunately, the Democratic candidate. With Cruz or Rubio, the GOP will be presenting Hillary with the greatest gift possible, regardless of their support for Israel.

    Trump’s actions speak louder than words. He HAS been a long-time supporter of Israel, one of the biggest in America. I do not like some of his statements, but politics is not perfection (currently, it is nearly the opposite of perfection).

    Trump can out Hillary Hillary on social issues, and will support Israel to the greatest extent since Johnson. People are sick to death of politically-coerced censorship, and the Iran ‘deal’ that resulted from it.

    Trump vs Hillary could very well be the only thing that will stop that antisemitic witch from giving the US at least four more years of solid Israel hatred and antisemitism.

  • Mickey Oberman

    I think Trump is genuine.

    He has the correct attitude and you know he will never kneel down and kiss the hand of the Saudi king or anyone else.

    If I were American I would put all my eggs in his basket.

    Now I wish Canada could get rid of its newly elected baby Obama, Justin Trudeau. (Trudeau translates to Water Hole.)

    Mickey Oberman (Canadian)

  • Carla

    he American people have been betrayed by this administration and constantly been told blatant lies. Americans are open and honest and dispise liars. That is why the honest, open, call-a-spade-a -spade man like Donald Trump is adored .We all wish it was already November and the sleazy tenants of the White House will have to leave soonest , including their prayer-mats…

  • Dr. Stephen Steinlight

    I didn’t realize the Algemeiner had a dog in the GOP primary fight; if it doesn’t, then it should disavow this sophomoric and tasteless tongue-in-cheek attack on Donald Trump. He is treated as a joke, an absurdity, and the writer actually poses the rhetorical question “how this could have happened.” There are interesting theories advanced by political scientists and veteran journalists about the anti-Washington anti-GOP corporatist populism that has made Trump the odds on favorite to win the Republican nomination. His views about his potential role in Mideast diplomacy aren’t risible in the least. And in his case, as opposed to that of Obama or Secretary Clinton, he hasn’t shown previous animus. This article is hardly the way to treat a man who may be the next president. I could understand the tone in the “Huffington Post” or some other leftist rag, but not in the Algemeiner.

  • Ben Zalman

    Both Mister’s Cruz and Rubio are very strong for Israel. Mr. Trump seems to be so also, but he is a business man and likes to trade and debate. However, I think he will find the Jihadist/Islamic radical mind is not interested in business. IMO, Israel is better off with the USA very close to having their back with $$$ and arms. Israel should be on alert 24/7 with her Enola Gay-(shun) plane! Interesting (ironic) that even many Muslim nations.i.e.Saudi Arabia, are fearful of Iran and its terroristic mentality!

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