Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio pledged to reinstate the from President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 in recognizing large settlement blocs in the West Bank as part of Israel.
Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum in DC Thursday, Rubio said that as president he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, rip up the Iran nuclear deal, recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and revive Bush’s letter to Sharon, a commitment President Barack Obama disavowed when he came into office. “I will revive the common-sense understandings reached in the 2004 Bush-Sharon letter and build on them to help ensure Israel has defensible borders,” he pledged.
In the letter, Bush submitted to Sharon as part of mutual understandings to advance the peace process based on the roadmap, the U.S. president wrote, “As part of a final peace settlement… in light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final-status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”
During his address at the RJC forum, Rubio also took an indirect shot at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump who, on Wednesday in an interview with AP, questioned Israel’s commitment to peace. “They’re dead wrong,” Rubio said as referring to “one of the candidates.” He also stressed that a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians is not “a real estates deal.”
“Let me be crystal clear: There is no moral equivalence between Israel and its enemies,” he said. “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 Republican presidential hopeful criticized the Obama administration for not speaking out forcefully against EU labeling of Israeli settlement products and the BDS movement. “Discriminatory laws that apply only to Jews are now being written into European law for the first time in more than half a century,” Rubio said. “I believe we need a president who is not afraid to call this out for what it is: anti-Semitism. I will be that president… As president I will make clear calling for the destruction of Israel is the same as calling for the killing of Jews.”