Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said his brother, former U.S. President George W. Bush, was "the strongest friend to Israel in modern history," and that if elected, he has no intention of pursuing a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or of pressuring Israel back to the negotiating table.
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In a preview of an interview with Bush by the Jewish Insider, the Republican nominee said that his brother's presidency will be his model when it comes to the relations between the U.S. and Israel, and leveled the responsibility for the stalemate in the peace process on the Palestinians. The interview will be published in full over the weekend.
Citing the example set up by his brother, Bush said that the U.S. must not force Israel into negotiations with the Palestinians until they have the credibility and the political legitimacy to commit and enforce a deal with Israel. The Palestinians, he added, must recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state "inside safe and secure borders."
Bush, who has only 8 percent of Republicans behind him according to the latest Ipsos/Reuters poll, added two further pre-conditions to any attempt by an administration led by him to restart talks between the sides: "Not until they [the Palestinians] stop the hatred of the Jewish State, and of Jews in general; not until they stop teaching their children to hate Israelis," he said in the interview.
Bush also attempted to allay concerns by conservative U.S. Jews over his foreign policy advisor James Baker, who reportedly said “f*** the Jews” in a private conversation while serving as secretary of state for Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush. Last year, Baker voiced criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying at a J Street conference that he was "disappointed" with his attitude toward the two-state solution. In the interview, Bush said that Baker is a "statesman, he's a friend, but he's not providing advice as it relates to Israel."