J Street urges Huckabee to drop Shepherd Hotel plans


WASHINGTON (JTA) — J Street urged former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to reconsider his plan to visit a controversial settlement in eastern Jerusalem.

Huckabee intends to attend a gala dinner Sunday at the controversial Shepherd Hotel construction site as part of a tour of West Bank settlements.

"The visit — and likely accompanying media circus — is provocative and directly undermines President Obama’s efforts to restart negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians," J Street, a dovish pro-Israel group, said in a statement Friday.  "The governor is wading into one of the world’s most sensitive and conflicted places in a brazen effort to score cheap political points, while jeopardizing the prospects for peace and security for Israel." Huckabee is likely to bid for the Republican presidential candidacy in 2012.

Israel’s government recently green-lighted the Jewish settlement project in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood, prompting complaints from the Obama administration.

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