President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly appointed an ambassador to Israel: Mike Huckabee, a supporter of settlement expansion and the Israeli annexation of the West Bank, who claimed in the past that Palestinians don't exist.
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>> Update: Huckabee denies the report.
The Daily Mail cited a presidential transition official as confirming the appointment. Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and a two-time presidential candidate, was set to meet Trump on Friday afternoon.
The British news site cited the source as saying that Huckabee will oversee the transfer of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"That's going to happen," the official was quoted as saying. "Governor Huckabee is going to see it through."
Huckabee, who over the last year served as a commentator on Fox News, is also involved in organizing and giving tours of Israel to Americans identified with the Republican Party and among these many Evangelical Christians. These tours also include visits toIsraeli settlements in the West Bank.
The former governor of Arkansas has close connections with the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of Israeli settlements, as well as more radical elements in the settlement movement. His stance vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is close to that of the more hawkish members of the Habayit Hayehudi party, itself a right-wing pro-settlement party. He, for example, has expressed his support for the annexation of the West Bank by Israel and the unlimited building of settlements.
In 2008, Huckabee expressed the opinion that "There's no such thing as a Palestinian." He added that the use of the term "Palestinian" is a political tool used to pressure Israel to hand over territory. In 2011, Huckabee repeated this claim in an interview with the Washington Post, and stressed that the claim that the Palestinians have a long history going back hundreds or thousands of years is untrue.
Huckabee also harshly criticized the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza and the uprooting of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005. In December 2015, Huckabee told Jewish donors in Brooklyn that he saw how Israelis were taken from out of their homes in the Gaza Strip at gunpoint. “I’ve seen the film of Gush Katif. You see good Jewish families taken at gunpoint out of their own home and marched out of Gush Katif,” he said.