Presidential races

Rubio slams Trump on Israel

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio
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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Thursday lashed out at Donald Trump’s comments suggesting that Israel should offer “sacrifices” to win a peace deal, telling a prominent Republican Jewish group that conflict is the Middle East amounts to more than “a real estate deal.”

Rubio, who is rising in polls of GOP voters, questioned Trump’s commitment to Israel given the business mogul’s interview published earlier in the day with The Associated Press.

{mosads}“There is no moral equivalence between Israel and those who seek to destroy her,” Rubio said in an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition. “Understanding that fundamental truth is essential to being the next commander in chief.

“This is not a real estate deal with two sides arguing over money. It’s a struggle to safeguard the future of Israel.”

The barb came about an hour before the famous real estate developer, who has dominated the GOP race so far, is to speak to the group, and hours after news of Trump’s comments appeared.

Trump told the AP that “a lot” of peace in the Middle East “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.”

He didn’t elaborate on what “certain things” Israel would need to sacrifice to win peace, but described Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a “huge sticking point.”

Palestinians have repeatedly called for Israel to make land concessions as per the borders drawn by the United Nations in 1948; Israel has bucked those calls and argued that it only took control of the land after its neighbors attacked the country.

The RJC is an unconditional supporter of Israel, and its board of directors includes major GOP power players and donors, such as Paul Singer, who has supported Rubio, and Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, a patron to Mitt Romney in 2012, hasn’t publicly supported a candidate, but reports say he’s leaning toward Rubio. All 14 major Republican candidates are slated to speak to the group.

Rubio also hit the Obama administration for being weak on national security, while vowing that as commander in chief he’d repair U.S. relations with Israel.

“Each time I return to this gathering, the urgency of the topic at hand has increased since the year before,” Rubio said. “That’s true this year more than ever. The threats facing both our country and Israel have grown dramatically in recent months, in large part because our president has placed his own legacy ahead of our mutual security.”

Rubio blasted the Obama administration for a foreign policy that he said lacks “moral clarity.” He said that under the president’s direction “our allies feel betrayed and our adversaries feel emboldened.” The senator also warned that Obama has “exacerbated” the “existential threat of the Iranian nuclear weapons program,” and vowed to “shred” the administration’s nuclear deal with the country.

“When we gather here a year from now, we’ll have a new president-elect,” Rubio said. “And depending on who it is, we’ll have either taken a significant step toward reviving American leadership in the world and advancing Israel’s security, or we will have slid even further toward weakness and disengagement.”

The freshman senator accused Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, of abandoning Israel, a key U.S. ally, warning that Israel faces an existential threat from “Apocalyptic Islam” and saying he would fight a growing strain of anti-Semitism at home — his biggest applause line of the day.

“Today, anti-Semitism hides behind the label of anti-Israel,” Rubio said. “We need a president who will call it that. I will be that president.”

From the start of his campaign, Rubio, a member of Select Committee on Intelligence, has sought to frame himself as one of the party’s foremost voices on national security.

The terror attacks in Paris last month have re-focused the GOP debate on foreign policy, and Rubio seems poised to benefit if he can convince national security-minded Republicans to look past his relative lack of experience.

Rubio on Thursday pointed to his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a primary selling point.

“This is only the beginning of what I will do as president in support of Israel, but it is far from the beginning of my efforts on this issue as a public servant,” Rubio said. “Throughout my time in the Senate, I have worked to strengthen and deepen our alliance.”  

Tags Donald Trump Israel Marco Rubio

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