Trump: I Would Be 'Neutral' on Israel and Palestine

Donald_Trump_Israel_Palestine
The Republican front-runner's approach to the long-running battle between the state of Israel and the Palestinians is unique among his party. REUTERS/Randall Hill

While most Republicans (and most Democrats) come down squarely on the side of Israel in its decades-old and highly complicated fight with Palestinians, Donald Trump has declared that he’d be neutral.

"I think it's probably the toughest agreement of any kind to make," Trump said of a potential peace deal. "It's possible it's not makeable," he told a questioner at a town hall with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

While the U.S. has long tried to play a role brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, which represents the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, most American politicians go out of the way to emphasize the special ties between the U.S. and Israel.

The author of The Art of the Deal didn’t underscore those historic bonds, preferring to dwell on the difficulties of forging an accord. "Whose fault do you think it is that there hasn't been peace: the Israelis or the Palestinians?" Scarborough asked Trump.

"I don't want to get into it," Trump replied. "If I do win, there has to be a certain amount of surprise, unpredictability. If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you…and the other side now says, 'We don’t want Trump involved.'

"I don't want to say whose fault it is. I don't think that helps," he added.

Trump's Republican rivals have been decidedly less neutral on the issue. Ted Cruz was once booed off a stage for supporting Israel, and Marco Rubio has criticized Trump for his tepid support of the U.S. ally in the past. "This is not a real estate deal with two sides arguing over money. It’s a struggle to safeguard the future of Israel," Rubio said.

All of the GOP candidates have criticized the Obama administration's role in forging an international agreement with Iran to curtail its nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vigorously opposed the Iran treaty and the GOP candidates have made it a point that the agreement would threaten Israel as well as the United States. Trump said that the treaty sold out Israel, endorsed Netanyahu’s 2013 re-election bid and has touted his role as grand marshal of the annual Celebrate Israel parade in New York.