Haley Barbour the latest GOP hopeful heading to Israel


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, will visit Israel.

The Republican Jewish Coalition announced Tuesday that it would host Barbour in Israel Feb. 5-9. The RJC has hosted Barber in 1994, when he chaired the Republican National Committee.

He will be the third potential Republican 2012 presidential candidate to visit Israel in recent weeks. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney visited Jan 13-14; ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is currently touring the country.

Barbour, like Romney and Huckabee, is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials.

"The Middle East faces many challenges, from the instability in Lebanon and Egypt and the threat of a nuclear Iran to the continuing danger posed by Hamas in Gaza," the RJC said in a statement. "As Iran and its proxies attempt to expand their reach in the region, it is vitally important that American and Israeli officials build and nurture a strong partnership in the fight against terrorism."

Huckabee, speaking Monday at at a cornerstone-laying ceremony at a Jewish building project on the Mount of Olives in eastern Jerusalem, said the Palestinians could establish a state, but not in the West Bank. He said it was unconscionable to oppose Jewish residency in any part of Israel or the West Bank.

"I cannot imagine as an American being told that I could not live in certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or because I spoke English," Huckabee was quoted as saying by media. "I would be outraged if someone told me that in my country, I would be prohibited and forbidden to live in a part of that country, for any reason."

Asked to elaborate by reporters later, Huckabee said that a Palestinian state should not come at Israel’s expense.

"There are vast amounts of territory that are in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs," he said. "Maybe the international community can come together and accommodate."


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