Trump: As president, I can't take Israel's side
During a wildly animated GOP debate Thursday evening, GOP front-runner Donald Trump asserted that, as president, he cannot side with Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because doing so would “demean” Palestinians.
Trump’s comments brought an onslaught of criticism from Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whom vowed to stand by Israel.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer moderated the debate, and Telemundo’s Maria Celeste Arraras, Salem talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt and CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash asked questions of the candidates.
During the debate, Blitzer began a round of questions on foreign policy by addressing the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis. He quoted Trump as having previously said, “Let me be sort of a neutral guy. I don’t want to say whose fault it is. I don’t think it helps.”
Blitzer then asked Trump, “How do you remain neutral when the U.S. considers Israel to be America’s closest ally in the Middle East?”
“Well, first of all I don’t think they do under President Obama, because I think he has treated Israel horribly,” began Trump. “Alright? I think he’s treated Israel horribly.”
Trump added, “I was the Grand Marshal down Fifth Avenue a number of years ago for the Israeli Day parade. I have very close ties to Israel. I’ve received the Tree of Life Award and 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.”
He then insisted, “I think it serves no purpose to say you have a good guy and a bad guy.”
“Now, 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. But it doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbors. Because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors.”
Trump said he can’t do that as a negotiator while taking sides.