A Republican president debate in Florida Thursday night took a quick turn from national issues to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz repeating attacks on front-runner Donald Trump for previously stating his intention to remain "neutral" on the subject, in the hopes of negotiating a peace agreement if elected president.
- Carson set to endorse Trump in U.S. presidential race
- Where does Donald Trump stand on Israel and the Palestinians?
- Trump’s triumphs demolish Netanyahu’s Fortress GOP strategy
Cruz highlighted his pro-Israel stance by telling the audience of the death of Texas resident Taylor Force on Tuesday at the hands of a Palestinian assailant. The Texas senator also claimed that the Palestinian Authority is ruling in a unity government with Hamas, the hard-line Islamist group in control of Gaza, though attempts at forming such a government broke down in 2015.
Trump defended his comments by saying that Israel's security would be his top priority in his approach to the conflict, but that he intended to make an attempt at negotiating an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
"There's nobody on this stage that's more pro-Israel than I am," Trump added to boos. "I happen to have a son-in-law and daughter who are Jewish."
Florida Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio also weighed in on the subject, saying that there is currently no possibility for a peace deal because Israel has no realistic partner to work with.
The fourth candidate on the stage, Ohio Governor John Kasich, presented a slightly different view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that a negotiated deal is not a possibility and calling any attempts to achieve such a deal, "a mistake."
Instead, said Kasich, the U.S. should continue supplying Israel with whatever arms and equipment is required to protect the country from security threats.