CHARLESTON, S.C. (UPI) — When it comes to the decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestine, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is reluctant to take sides.
At a town hall hosted by MSNBC in Charleston, S.C., Wednesday evening, Trump declined to place blame for the ongoing conflict on either side.
A voter asked Trump what it would take for him “to establish an agreement between both sides” after years of failed negotiations.
“I think it’s probably the toughest agreement of any kind to make. It has been going on for many years; many friends of mine have been involved; they’re very good businessmen, good negotiators,” he replied. “A lot of people say an agreement can’t be made, which is OK, sometimes agreements can’t be made, not good. But you have both sides really, but you have one side in particular growing up and learning that these are the worst people, these are the worst people, etc., etc.”
Trump said he spoke with a “prominent Israeli” recently who “said it’s impossible because the other side has been trained from the time they’re children to hate Jewish people. But I will give it one hell of a shot. That I can tell you. But of all agreements — I would say if you can do that deal you can do any deal. That’s probably the toughest deal in the world right now to make and it’s possible it’s not makeable because don’t forget, it has to last.”
When asked which side he would blame for the conflicts, he demurred. “If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you [my choice] and the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved,'” he said.
Trump’s stance on the conflict has been a mystery to voters. At a presidential candidates’ forum held by the Republican Jewish Coalition in December, Trump was booed by the audience for refusing to answer whether or not Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel.
Shortly after the appearance, Trump canceled a planned trip to Israel that included a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after members of Netanyahu’s government condemned Trump.
Most candidates on the Republican side have moved to align themselves with Israel, vowing to make protection of Israeli interests a cornerstone of their foreign policy plans. Much of the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal rests on Israel’s concerns of a closer relationship between Iran and the United States. Every GOP candidate supports doing away with the deal. During December’s forum at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the deal was an insult to Israel.
“The days of giving the Ayatollah of Iran more respect than the Prime Minister of Israel will be over on my first day of office,” he told the audience, to a standing ovation.
Copyright 2015 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.