Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tells Newsmax that President Obama won’t succeed in restarting peace talks in the Middle East because the Palestinians have “zero interest” in negotiations.
The 2008 Republican presidential candidate also says the administration’s dealings with Mohammed Morsi and Egypt are “foreign policy gone wild,” and warns that the United States will be viewed as a “toothless tiger” if Obama doesn’t respond as promised to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Huckabee is now the host of “The Mike Huckabee Show,” broadcast on 227 radio stations in 48 states, and a Fox News contributor. His latest book is “Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett: A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Faith, Family and the Things That Matter Most.”
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President Obama is making his first official trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories this week. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Huckabee was asked if Obama will be able to get the Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
“I don’t see that happening, in large measure because the Palestinians have shown zero interest in doing what it will take to have a legitimate and thoughtful negotiation,” he says.
“You’ve got a Palestinian regime that has embraced Hamas, put them in power in Gaza. So on one hand you’re supposed to negotiate with the group of people that even the State Department has declared a terrorist organization, an organization that has launched rockets at civilian targets in Israel.
“You’ve got a Palestinian government that refuses Israel’s right to exist. It’s really hard to negotiate with someone when they don’t even believe you have a right to exist, much less exist with a level of safety and security.
“If the president honestly believes he can do something about the peace process, he’s not smoking a peace pipe — there’s something else in that pipe.”
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Huckabee also declares that with Obama in the White House, he doesn’t believe the U.S.-Israel relationship “has ever been rockier. Every president, Democrat or Republican, has been a steadfast partner with Israel because they recognize that Israel is the only country in the Middle East whose government is a government of legitimate freedom and democracy, where free speech, rights of women, rights of education, freedom of the press exist.
“In all the other regimes around Israel you have totalitarian governments, hard dictators, a very different kind of environment than in Israel.
“The president’s got to go in there and convince the Israelis that he no longer is going to make these ridiculous speeches like he did in Cairo back in 2009, where he essentially asked nothing of the Palestinians, but he has been over the top in demanding that Israel not build in Judea and Samaria.
“It is not the role of a U.S. president to determine that Israelis have the right to build bedrooms for their kids. Rather than condemning Israelis for building bedrooms, we ought to be fighting the Iranians for building bombs.”
Israeli officials believe that U.S. policymaking in the region has been naïve in failing to anticipate the rise of Islamist forces in the wake of the Arab uprisings, and Jordan’s King Abdullah has criticized the administration’s dealings with Egyptian President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Asked if the president and Secretary of State John Kerry will be playing a more active role in supporting non-Islamist forces in the region, Huckabee responds: “I would like to think that they would play a more active role, but first they have to get their head screwed on straight as to what role the United States has in standing up for our friends and not abandoning the few people in the Middle East that actually pretend to like us.
“The president was so incredibly quick to demand Hosni Mubarak step down from the Egyptian government — and I’m not defending all the actions of Mubarak — but he kept peace in the Middle East, he maintained the treaty with Israeli, and he remained a friend of the United States, refusing to let radical Islamists take control and infiltrate the government.
“Now you’ve got a president of Egypt who openly says Jews are bloodsuckers and the descendants of apes and pigs. That’s something we never would have tolerated in previous administrations and yet John Kerry goes over and gives him a $250 million cash check, plus F-16s, plus Abrams tanks. It’s foreign policy gone wild.”
Reports indicate that Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad may have crossed what Obama previously described as a “red line” by using chemical weapons on his own people.
Huckabee comments: “It’s unfortunate. Either the president shouldn’t have used that particular analogy or if he really meant it, he’s going to have to do something about it, otherwise once again the world will look at the United States as a toothless tiger that talks big but doesn’t back it up.
“That’s the worst message to send to Middle East tyrants right now, that they can keep stepping across a line. What does that say to Iran? We tell them you better not build a weaponized nuclear device and yet if they do, they have to wonder, are we really going to do anything about it? And the answer is, probably not.”
Huckabee also says Democrats dropped their support for an “absurd and ridiculous” assault weapons ban because they knew it wasn’t going to pass and Democrats up for re-election next year feared backlash from pro-Second Amendment voters. And if they did vote against the ban, they risked backlash from liberal voters — and either scenario could have cost the Democrats the Senate in 2014.
Regarding Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, Huckabee observes that “Democrats and many people in the media think that it’s the most harsh, draconian budget that’s ever been put forth, and then you’ve got Republicans who think that it doesn’t go nearly far enough.
“I’ve always said that an example of a good piece of legislation is when nobody likes it.
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“My guess is the final resolution of it will probably leave both sides dissatisfied with it and that’s probably not totally a bad thing, so the Ryan budget is a good start. It’s not written on two tablets postmarked Mount Sinai so I don’t think there’s any fault in tinkering with it. But there’s a value in at least something being put on the table.”
Huckabee tells Newsmax that the “real reason” Obama won re-election is that he “had the most amazing organization that the political world’s ever seen. Nobody has ever put together anything quite like this before, where for four years the president, obviously not focusing much on governing, had focused on re-election and had developed this intense mobilization process to get out the voters.”
Huckabee also comments on the schism developing between conservatives and the GOP establishment.
“The schism can hurt a lot. But one thing the GOP needs to be is a champion for the blue collar, hard-working Americans who really feel left out. The Republicans have done a great job of protecting big business corporate interests but they have done a lousy job of coming across as being the party that really wants to help your elderly parent or wants to be there to make sure that blue collar workers get a fair shake.
“We bail out people at the top – big banks, big insurance companies, big brokerage houses – and then, down at the bottom, we criticize things like food stamps. There probably are too many people on government relief, but some people actually do need the assistance and I’ve never understood why Republicans don’t mind bailing out some of the richest people on Wall Street but then resent it when we just offer a little assistance in the way of food and nutrition to some of the poorest families in the country.”
In his Newsmax interview, Huckabee also warns that GOP support for gay marriage will cost the GOP the support of evangelicals, and discloses that he hasn’t ruled out another run for the White House in 2016.
Editor's Note: See the exclusive excerpt of the Newsmax interview with Mike Huckabee:
Huckabee: Evangelicals Will Walk if GOP Backs Gay Marriage
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