Billionaire Donald Trump, a leading GOP candidate for the 2016 US elections claiming to be a “big, big fan of Israel,” accused the Republican Jewish Coalition of wanting to “control” politicians with their money and questioned Israel’s commitment to peace. He also refused to endorse Jerusalem as the united capital of the Jewish state.
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump, the US Republican party’s front-runner for the 2016 elections, openly questioned Israel’s commitment to the Mideast peace process in his remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition Thursday evening, echoing comments he made the night before in an interview with The Associated Press. He drew boos after refusing to endorse Jerusalem as the nation’s undivided capital.
‘I Don’t Want Your Money’
“You’re not going to support me even though you know I’m the best thing that could happen to Israel,” Trump, who claims he’s a “big, big fan” of Israel. said. “I know why you’re not going to support me — because I don’t want your money. You want to control your own politician.”
Trump’s comments on Israel — particularly his repeated questioning of its commitment to making a peace deal with the Palestinians — sparked an aggressive backlash from his Republican rivals.
“Some in our own party — in the news today — have actually questioned Israel’s commitment to peace,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told the crowd. “Some in our own party actually call for more sacrifice from the Israeli people. They are dead wrong, and they don’t understand the enduring bond between Israel and America.”
Trump leads in the polls trailed by another outsider, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. In a second tier are Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz, seen as strong contenders if Trump and Carson fade after the primaries. The candidacy of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, son and brother of presidents and the preference of many party mainstays, has failed to take off. Other candidates are Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio, and former businesswoman Carly Fiorina.
On the eve of the event, Trump weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an AP interview, questioning for the first time both sides’ commitment to peace and saying that he would know within six months of being elected president whether he could broker an elusive peace accord.
He doubled down on those comments Thursday in an auditorium packed with Israel’s most loyal supporters. “I don’t know that Israel has the commitment to make it, and I don’t know the other side has the commitment to make it,” Trump said.
Trump: Is Israel ‘Willing to Sacrifice?’
“A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things,” Trump said. “They may not be, and I understand that, and I’m OK with that. But then you’re just not going to have a deal.”
The comment drew murmurs of disapproval. Later, a smattering of boos broke out after he refused to say whether Jerusalem should serve as the undivided capital of Israel.
Trump shrugged off the criticism. “Do me a favor, just relax,” he told one of the people booing.
“After having carefully reviewed the speech, we do not believe that it was Donald Trump’s intention to evoke anti-Semitic stereotypes,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, created in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism, said in a statement following Trump’s controversial speech. Trump “has made similar comments about spending his own money on the campaign, and not asking for money from donors, to many other groups,” Greenblatt said.
He did not comment on Trump’s questioning of Israel’s commitment to peace.
The ADL, however, in a separate issue not concerning the Jewish community, had condemned Trump’s remarks about immigrants in July as hate speech and stereotyping. “Donald Trump’s hate speech against immigrants is highly inappropriate and we join with the voices of many others around the country who have condemned his offensive remarks,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, at the time. “It is time for Trump to stop spreading misinformation and hatred against immigrants, legal and undocumented.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) expressed outrage at Trump’s remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition. The organization “is alarmed, outraged and disappointed by presidential candidate Donald Trump’s factually inaccurate and ludicrous claim that a successful peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arab dictators ‘has to do with Israel and whether or not Israel’s willing to sacrifice certain things.’ In fact, peace depends on one thing: Whether Palestinian Arabs and their governing entities Hamas, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, give up their decades-long goal of destroying Israel, murdering every Jew, and completely replacing Israel with a Palestinian Arab state ‘from the river to the sea.’”
By: AP and Terri Nir, United with Israel
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