Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio slammed Donald Trump, his party’s front-runner for the nomination, Wednesday over statements he made last week on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
According to the Florida senator, Trump has said he’s not going to take sides on Israel versus the Palestinians because he wants to be an “honest broker.”
Rubio said there was no such thing, “because the Palestinian Authority, which has strong links to terror, they teach little kids, 5-year-olds, that it’s a glorious thing to kill Jews.”
The criticism referred to comments made during a town hall event hosted by MSNBC in Charleston, South Carolina, last Wednesday.
After being asked by a voter what steps he would take to broker an accommodation between the sides in the conflict, Trump vowed to give it “one hell of a shot” and called it “probably the toughest agreement of any kind to make.”
But when pressed by host Joe Scarborough over whether he ascribed fault to either Israelis or Palestinians over the failure to reach a lasting accord, Trump declined to take sides.
“You know, I don’t want to get into it, because… If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you and the other side now says, ‘We don’t want Trump involved,’” he said.
“Let me be sort of a neutral guy,” he continued. “A lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So I don’t want to say whose fault is it. I don’t think it helps.”
Trump also expressed skepticism over the possibility of achieving a two-state solution, given the conditions of the conflict and the need for any agreement to be sustainable over time.
“It’s possible it’s not makeable, because don’t forget it has to last — it’s wonderful to make it and it doesn’t work, but it has to last,” he said. “To make lasting peace there? Probably the toughest deal of all, but I’m going to give it a shot.”
Though he was not asked directly what he considers the most substantial obstacles standing in the way of a peace agreement, he suggested that growing hostility between the two peoples was contributing to the stalemate, and what he considers the root of the conflict.
“A lot of people say an agreement can’t be made, which is okay. I mean, sometimes agreements can’t be made. Not good, but, you know, you have both sides really, but one side in particular, growing up and learning that these are the worst people,” he said. “I was with a very prominent Israeli the other day. He says it’s impossible, because the other side has been trained from the time they’re children to hate Jewish people.”
Rubio has so far shown little willingness to take on the former reality television star but his criticism of Trump’s position on Israel could signal the beginning of a change.
“The vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee,” Rubio told NBC on Wednesday, suggesting that Trump is winning only because the other candidates are splitting up the majority of the electorate.