US presidential candidate Huckabee:'West Bank not occupied'

US presidential candidate Huckabee:'West Bank not occupied'
In bizarre, inaccurate and nonsensical comments, US Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says the West Bank is not occupied and referred to the area as 'Judea and Samaria'.
2 min read
20 August, 2015
Huckabee referred to the West Bank as Judaea and Samaria [AFP]

US presidential contender Mike Huckabee said during a visit to Jerusalem on Wednesday that he did not consider the West Bank occupied by Israel - a stand sharply at odds with much of the world.

The Republican and Baptist minister, a regular visitor to Israel, attended a fundraiser for his campaign on Tuesday at a Jewish settlement in the Palestinian territory.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

Huckabee said he had no qualms about holding the fundraiser at Shiloh in the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Six-Day War in a move never recognised by the international community.

The ex-governor of the southern state of Arkansas who has also hosted a Fox News channel programme said he considered the Palestinian territory part of Israel.

     There's nothing in any of the comments that I've made that I feel to be inaccurate or inflammatory.
- Mike Huckabee, US presidential contender

"I don't see it as occupied," Huckabee told journalists. "That makes it appear as if someone is illegally taking land. I don't see it that way."

He told reporters: "if you're going to visit Israel you should visit all of Israel, and that would include Judea and Samaria," the biblical name for the West Bank that Israel also invokes to refer to the territory, reported the UK newspaper the Guardian.

Asked about what his plan would be for Palestinians living in the West Bank, he said it would have to be negotiated between the two sides. 

Around 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank along with some 380,000 Israeli illegal settlers. The figures do not include Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

Huckabee also said he did not regret his comments warning that President Barack Obama was marching the Israelis to the "door of the oven" with the July 14 nuclear deal struck by Iran and world powers.

"There's nothing in any of the comments that I've made that I feel to be inaccurate or inflammatory," he said. "I think that they were exactly on target."

Huckabee met with Binyamin Netanyahu during his visit.

During his visit, the republican presidential hopeful also seemed to imply the West Bank bordered one of Israel’s enemies, as opposed to Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

When asked why the West Bank should be part of Israel, Huckabee said: "I cannot imagine that any American who comes here would somehow feel that the Israelis are out of line in wanting to have as safe a barrier between them and their sworn enemies as possible."