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Republican Huckabee supports Israeli settlements

world Updated: Aug 17, 2009 22:37 IST

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The US has taken too harsh a stance against Israel on the issue of settlements, hindering peace negotiations, former Arkansas governor and presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee said during a visit to Israel today.

Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher popular among the Republican Party's social conservatives, has been touted as a possible Republican candidate in 2012.

His three-day trip, focusing on visits to settlements and meetings with settler leaders, puts him in direct opposition to President Barack Obama and positions him even to the right of Israel's own hawkish prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama has been pushing Israel to freeze settlements. And Netanyahu has pledged to dismantle unauthorized settlement
outposts such as one Huckabee plans to visit.

The Obama administration has specifically criticised Israeli building plans in east Jerusalem, where Israeli
control has never been internationally recognized and which the Palestinians want for the capital of a future state.

"It concerns me when there are some in the United States who would want to tell Israel that it cannot allow people to live in their own country, wherever they want," Huckabee said in east Jerusalem.

He said the Obama administration's emphasis on the settlement issue sets a condition that unnecessarily impedes
peace talks.