intRepublican presidential candidate Ted Cruz refused to express support for the two-state solution in Israel-Palestine in a recent interview at an Evangelical Christian conference, insisting that it is Israel’s decision to continue to occupy Palestinian sovereign territory if it deems it necessary. The US senator also condemned international law and expressed unconditional support for the Israeli government’s decisions, no matter their legal implications.
At the 2015 summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI)—a Christian Zionist organization that claims to be the largest pro-Israel organization in the US, with over two million members—Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist and deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens asked Cruz if he supports a two-state solution for the conflict in Israel-Palestine.
Cruz refused to endorse the model, instead stating “I don’t think it is the role of the United States, or any other foreign nation, to try to impose a specific solution on the dispute between Israel the Palestinians.”
“Whether the ultimate solution that is arrived upon by those parties is a two-state solution or a one-state solution or something else, that is a decision for Israel to make,” Cruz said.
The United Nations and other international legal bodies have long ruled Israel’s 48-year occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Gaza, and the Golan Heights to be illegal. For almost five decades, the international community has called on Israel to cease its occupation of the territories and to allow the Palestinians to create an independent state.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected in March 2015 on the promise that there would be never be a Palestinian state. The UN enjoined Netanyahu to abide by international law, cease the expansion of illegal settlements, and work toward a two-state solution.
Condemning Obama for purportedly pressuring Israel to fulfill these obligations under international law to end its illegal occupation and to return to its 1967 boundaries, Ted Cruz maintained that “Israel is a sovereign nation and her elected leaders can make the determinations that are necessary for the safety and security of Israel.”
In other words, Senator Cruz insists that the Israeli government should defy international law if it considers it necessary for national security.
Later in the interview, Cruz demonstrated more explicit disdain for international law. He harangued Obama and Kerry for discussing US military policy “in terms of international law norms.” “It’s not the job of the president to be a law professor in the faculty lounge defending international law,” Cruz retorted. “It’s the job of the commander in chief to protect this country.”
Cruz accused “Obama-Clinton foreign policy” of “alienating and abandoning our friends and allies and demonstrating weakness and appeasement to our enemies.”
The hardline right-wing senator claimed “Israel is not the impediment to peace,” maintaining that “the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept peace.” Columbia University historian Rashid Khalidi argues in his book Brokers of Deceit, however, that it is in fact the US and Israel that have obstructed peace, jeopardizing past agreements by refusing to concede basic demands to the Palestinians.
This intransigence, Palestinian critics have argued, has ironically made the one-state solution inevitable—ironic because, for decades, Palestinian and Israeli leftists have called for a single democratic, secular, non-sectarian state.
Dr. Khalidi, a leading specialist on the conflict, has for years said the same: The unwavering right-wing opposition to any kind of viable Palestinian state buried the possibility. “Anyone who is an advocate of the two-state ‘solution’ has to tell me how a 40 plus year-old process can be reversed,” Khalidi said in a 2011 interview with leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz. “It’s inexorable – the bulldozers never stop.”
Cruz referred to CUFI founder and national chairman John Hagee as “my dear friend” and recalled traveling to San Antonio, Texas to celebrated the megachurch pastor’s 75th birthday with him.
Hagee is a Holocaust revisionist who called Hitler a “half-breed Jew” and who blames anti-Semitism on Jews. He claims God sent Hitler to “hunt them [Jews] from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks … to get them to come back to the land of Israel.”
Despite these extreme views, Hagee remains a close ally of not just the Netanyahu government, but also of the Republican party. In 2012, Foreign Policy included Hagee in its list of the 50 Republicans with the most influence on foreign policy. The Washington Post notes CUFI “can boast that it has members from every congressional district in America.” Senator Cruz called the Evangelical group a “magnificent organization” and heaped praise upon it.
The presidential candidate expressed similarly extreme positions on other foreign policy issues.
When asked if he supports US boots on the ground in Syria in order to fight ISIS, Cruz responded succinctly: “Absolutely.”
He also poured much scorn upon the Iran deal, which he characterized as “an R&D [research and development] program for the Iranian nuclear program.”
No journalist or government agency has been able to procure a modicum of evidence showing that Iran has pursued creating nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders have in fact continuously denied that they seek such weapons.
Cruz, nevertheless, portrays the nuclear deal—which will prevent Iran from creating the nuclear weapons it says it was not even planning on creating in the first place in exchange for the end to US sanctions on the country—as a surefire pathway to terrorism. “This deal, if it’s consummated, will transform the United States government into being one of the leading financiers funding terrorism against Americans,” Cruz claimed.
He implied he would even support military intervention against Iran, asserting “I believe in peace through strength.”
The senator concluded the interview giving “a call of action to the men and women of CUFI” to oppose the Iran deal.
Days after the interview, Bret Stephens, the Wall Street Journal editor interviewing Cruz and the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, would plot with CUFI against the Iran nuclear deal, in hopes of jeopardizing the US government’s negotiations.