Mike Huckabee to Attend Gala at Disputed East Jerusalem Hotel

U.S. has objected to Israel construction at Shepherd Hotel, as part of demand for total settlement freeze.

U.S. Republican Mike Huckabee, both former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, will attend a formal dinner on Sunday at the contentious Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem.

The Obama administration has objected to Israeli plans for construction at the hotel, located in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pressed Israel to halt settlement activity as part of a bid to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The U.S. has demanded that the hotel project be halted, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting in July that "Israel will not agree to edicts of this kind in East Jerusalem."

Huckabee will be joined at the hotel dinner by over a hundred guests, including prominent Jewish and Republican activists from the United States.

Huckabee is also planning to visit the Jewish section of Hebron, Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and Ma'aleh Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank.

Huckabee's trip is sponsored by Ateret Cohanim, an organization that runs a religious-Zionist Yeshiva in East Jerusalem, and works to encourage Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

Huckabee, who ran for the Republican party's nomination for the 2008 presidential election, is seen as an early front-runner to win the party's nomination in 2012.

The Shepherd Hotel was purchased by American Jewish tycoon Irving Moskowitz in 1985 for $1 million. Moskowitz, an influential supporter of Ateret Cohanim and heightened Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, plans to tear down the hotel and build housing units for Jewish Israelis in its place.