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Kicking off campaign, Rubio attacks Obama on Israel

Republican presidential candidate lists relations with Israel, Iran among his major platform issues in 2016 presidential run

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (R) meets with US Sen. Marco Antonio Rubio (R-FL) in Jerusalem February 20, 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (R) meets with US Sen. Marco Antonio Rubio (R-FL) in Jerusalem February 20, 2013. (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90)

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has made the US’s relations with Israel a central plank in his 2016 presidential campaign, knocking what he called President Barack Obama’s failure to “stand with Israel.”

Rubio, a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives who was elected to the US Senate in 2010, announced his presidential candidacy on April 13.

Rubio’s campaign website was launched Tuesday shortly after announcing his candidacy. Among the issues it features are relations with Cuba, abortion, Iran’s nuclear program and a healthcare plan to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act as central tenets, along with fostering close relations with Israel.

“We have a national security interest in making sure Israel is strong, and we have a moral obligation to keep the promise made in the wake of the Holocaust for a safe and secure nation for the Jewish people,” Rubio’s website said.

“Sadly, under the current Administration, that commitment to Israel has been lacking.”

Rubio mentions a “long and embarrassing” list of what he called Obama’s failures to stand with Israel, including the “days” it took Obama to congratulate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on winning the March elections. The president was much more prompt in contacting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after their respective victories, he said.

“Israel is exactly what America wants and needs as an ally, especially in the Middle East,” he wrote. “They are a strong free-market democracy, something we desperately need more of in the region.”

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