JERUSALEM, Israel - Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee arrives in Israel on Monday for a solidarity visit to underscore his support for a united Jerusalem and the right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
The former presidential hopeful will be accompanied by New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Dr. Joseph Frager, chairman of the American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, also called The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, which is hosting the trip.
Highlights of the three-day visit include the city of Ma'ale Adumim and the adjoining E1 area, the City of David, the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Atarot and the security fence around Jerusalem.
Huckabee also plans to visit Givat HaYovel, designated an illegal outpost to be dismantled by the government, which is home to the family of Roi Klein, the Second Lebanon War hero who died when he threw himself on a grenade to save the lives of the soldiers in his unit.
Huckabee will also meet with Gush Katif evacuees to hear about their experiences over the four years since the government's pullout from the Gaza Strip and the destruction of their homes and communities.
Hikind believes Huckabee's visit will send a much-needed message to Israelis and to the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama.
"This is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on Obama's policy in Jerusalem, which has just been a horror," Hikind told The Jerusalem Post.
"Huckabee's arrival is significant because this is a guy who is a major figure in America and, in my opinion, will be a presidential candidate again. To have a guy like him...come at this particular time... is going to send a very strong message to the Israeli people and to the American administration," he said.
Huckabee will also visit the Shepherd's Hotel in east Jerusalem, purchased in 1985 by American Jewish millionaire Irving Moskowitz.
Renovations to the former hotel, located near the Israel Police National Headquarters, include 20 new apartments, as well as shops and offices on the lower floors.
The U.S. State Department criticized the Israeli Supreme Court's decision to evict two Arab families living in the building illegally to allow the renovations for Jewish families.
David Parsons, media relations director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), is enthusiastic about the visit.
"We were founded on the 3,000-year-old Jewish claim to Jerusalem," Parsons told the Post. "and we think the U.S. policy here has been absurd - not just under this administration, but for many years," he said.
"For a figure like Huckabee to come at this time and show his support is great news," Parsons said, adding that "the longer the question over Jerusalem is left open, the longer it begins to become the capital of everyone else except the Jews."
Last weekend, the Palestinian Authority's Fatah faction issued a resolution following its five-day General Assembly in Bethlehem, stating that "Jerusalem is awaiting our sacrifices until it returns to us void of settlers [Jewish residents]."
The resolution further stated that Jerusalem is "the eternal capital of Palestine, the Arab world and the Islamic and Christian worlds."
Source: The Jerusalem Post