CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee scored high with Israelis right, left and center during his two-day whirlwind visit to the Jewish state.
Huckabee's straightforward, no-nonsense approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was considered by many to be a refreshing change from the usual carefully worded sound bites visiting diplomats feed the press.
No one had to figure out what the former presidential candidate was saying, nor did he offend with sharply worded criticism when he expressed his views.
On the contrary, he spoke pragmatically and courteously, reflecting the deep-rooted faith and biblically based foundation that guides his thinking.
Huckabee's responses to reporters' questions on the complex issues facing Israel brought clarity in addressing problems that are often labeled unsolvable.
The topics he discussed included Jerusalem's status as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel, mixed Arab and Jewish neighborhoods in the city, land swaps and the formation of a Palestinian state on Israeli land.
"As an American, I do not feel that the Israelis are obligated or required to give up land in order to bring peace," Huckabee told reporters.
"You do not achieve peace by creating a situation where you cannot defend your borders and therefore protect your citizens. Having a temporary cessation of hostility is not peace if while that cessation of hostility is going on, just across the border, arms are being built up for the purpose of eventually pushing that border down," he said.
"The Jewish people have a right to a homeland," he said, asking why a Palestinian state must be established atop a "tiny space of real estate" that has belonged to Jews for millennia.
Huckabee pointed out that a map of the Middle East shows that there's plenty of real estate available.
"We are talking about a postage stamp where Israel is," he said, and "we are talking about an extraordinary footprint for land controlled by the Arabs.
A future Palestinian state does not have to be built "on top of Israeli land," he said.
"There are many, many places where a homeland for the Palestinians could, in fact, take place, which would be consistent with their roots," he said.
"But there is only one place on earth where the Jewish people could have a homeland that is consistent with their roots," Huckabee said.
Huckabee also affirmed Jerusalem as Israel's eternal, undivided capital, adding that the U.S. Embassy does not belong in Tel Aviv any more than Israel's US embassy belonged in Denver instead of Washington.
He also said there shouldn't be a problem with Jews purchasing land in Arab neighborhoods.
"Mixed neighborhoods are a blessing. It's nice to see how other people live," he said, referring to The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a New York foundation that encourages Jews to live side-by-side with Arabs in Jerusalem's Old City.
"[The foundation] is going about the process the right way -- not forcibly taking territory, but the old fashioned way of purchasing land and having families move in," he said.
In Jerusalem, Huckabee visited the mixed Jewish Arab neighborhood of Abu Tor, the Muslim Quarter in the Old City, a Yemenite neighborhood in the Silwan Valley and a new housing project at the Mount of Olives.
He also visited the Kotel (Western Wall), where he prayed at one of Judaism's holiest sites, which came back under Israeli sovereignty following the 1967 Six Day War.
"We have a moral obligation to the Jewish people to honor the commitment that has been made through decades and decades of understanding -- that there is going to be a homeland for the Jewish people," he said.
Sources: Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, israel national news