Kasich defends Israel’s settlement policy


Republican presidential candidate John Kasich addressed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the U.S.-Israel relationship in great detail on the campaign trail Wednesday afternoon, a rarity in his over 90 campaign appearances in New Hampshire.

During a business forum in Manchester, Kasich sparred with a questioner over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress last March and the administration’s handling of the peace process and its poor relations with the Israeli government. 

Asked about his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how he would push for the implementation of the two-state solution, Kasich started off by saying, “[Secretary of State] John Kerry and [Vice President] Joe Biden are in the administration where the Prime Minister of Israel went to Washington and the President refused to meet with him. That was really constructive (Kasich, most probably, meant to say counterproductive – JK) on part of the administration. That was ridiculous. That was ridiculous, okay.”

But the questioner, a young man from Minnesota, interrupted him by saying that was after Netanyahu disavowed his commitment to the two-state solution in pre-election comments — which is inaccurate since Netanyahu’s speech was two weeks before the elections and Netanyahu made these comments on the eve of Election Day.

“Let me tell you,” Kasich countered, “If the Prime Minister of Israel came to America, I would meet with him as the President of the United States. Okay? I think that was a horrible foreign policy mistake.”

The Republican presidential hopeful also defended the Israeli government’s policy on the peace process. “Israel has given a lot of stuff back. They gave Gaza back. How is that working out? They have everything launching into Israel,” Kasich asserted. “Netanyahu was for a two-state solution. But I don’t know how you get a two-state solution when people are walking into your country and stabbing people. I will say this: recognize the State of Israel, guarantee their permanent security, stop launching Katyusha rockets into Israel, stop sending in people with knives to kill people in Israel — they went from rocks to knives now — and knock it off. And then, I think you can get to a two-state solution.”

In pursuing peace, Kasich proclaimed, “You will never have permanent peace. And people who search for a permanent peace, are searching for something that doesn’t exist. What you want to search for is stability. Every day that you go by without there being major problems there that is a win. And I can tell you, we are not going to bully Israel; it’s their survival. It’s just very serious stuff. It’s like – man, we want to survive.”

According to Kasich, the way to move forward is, “We stay cool, calm, deliberate and firm.”

As it relates to U.S. policy on building in West Bank settlements, Kasich stated, “If you don’t like what Israel is doing with some apartments, then go and tell them – if that’s what you don’t like. But don’t tell them in front of a bunch of cameras. You see, if I want to correct my children, I don’t do it in front of other people. And if I ever get close to that, they make it clear they don’t like it. [The same should apply] with the Israelis: you got a problem, you can tell them but tell them in private.”

“Are there things that maybe they could do better, somehow? Probably. But I am not going to do this stuff in the open. If I have a problem with Netanyahu, I will talk to him privately,” he added.

But Kasich seemed to defend Israel’s settlement activity. “Why are they building more apartments? Because it’s land; it’s security,” he explained. Vowing, “I would never, ever, ever jeopardize the security of that country. Never.”