J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement today upon reports of Governor Mike Huckabee’s planned visit to the West Bank and East Jerusalem:
J Street is calling on former Arkansas Governor and likely 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to reconsider plans to visit the disputed Shepherd Hotel construction site in East Jerusalem as part of a tour of West Bank settlements. The visit – and likely accompanying media circus – is provocative and directly undermines President Obama’s efforts to restart negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Governor is wading into one of the world’s most sensitive and conflicted places in a brazen effort to score cheap political points, while jeopardizing the prospects for peace and security for Israel. Governor Huckabee has continually made it clear that he does not support the two-state solution or regional peace efforts, saying he doesn’t think Israel should “give up any land” and that the “two–state solution is no solution.” He has consistently backed settlement construction and said that the Palestinians should create their own country “elsewhere.” The Governor is entitled to hold these views and to act on them, just as we are entitled not to support him or them. But let there be no question that by choosing to visit the Shepherd Hotel, he is knowingly inflaming an already volatile situation for the cynical purpose of scoring political points with his base. That does not make him pro-Israel – it just makes him pro-Huckabee and highly irresponsible, at that. J Street supports President Obama’s call for a complete settlement freeze – including in East Jerusalem – as well as his call for Palestinian steps to end incitement to violence, and Arab moves toward normalization with Israel. It is only through two states for two people that Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy will be secured. We hope Governor Huckabee will cease playing politics with such sensitive issues.