Trump to Israeli paper: I’m your biggest friend

Candidate pledges to make efforts toward Israeli-Palestinian peace if elected; says he likes idea of moving embassy to Jerusalem

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Sioux Center, Iowa, on January 23, 2016. (AP/Evan Vucci)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Sioux Center, Iowa, on January 23, 2016. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Republican front-runner Donald Trump called himself Israel’s biggest friend this week, saying his ties to the Jewish state are stronger than those of any other presidential candidate.

Speaking to the Sheldon Adelson-controlled Israel Hayom newspaper, Trump cited his daughter’s marriage to Jared Kushner, who is Jewish. And he added that he, himself, had participated in various pro-Israel rallies.

The interview was only published in a Hebrew translation, thus no direct quotes in English were available.

Trump told the paper, which is strongly supportive of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that he wanted to work to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. Though he didn’t know if this was possible, he said he would make efforts to resolve the conflict if elected.

He also blasted the Iran nuclear deal, as he has in the past, calling it the worst possible accord for Israel.

Asked for his position on moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as was promised in the past by many presidential candidates — Trump said he liked the idea.

Last Wednesday, Trump vowed to give Mideast peace “one hell of a shot” and called it “probably the toughest agreement of any kind to make.”

During a town hall event hosted by MSNBC in Charleston, South Carolina, Trump tried to show neutrality.

“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.”

The Grand Old Party is under intense pressure to derail the Trump train.

By turns boastful, mocking or menacing, Trump has hit on a style that has seduced a growing and increasingly diverse share of Republican voters — to the dismay of his rivals, who have struggled to find an effective angle of attack against the 69-year-old real estate mogul.

White House hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio unleashed a barrage of attacks against Trump during Thursday’s raucous Republican debate as they sought to halt the billionaire front-runner’s seemingly relentless march to the party’s nomination.

The three candidates exchanged some of the most-heated and acerbic remarks of the entire 2016 primary cycle. They often talked over one another as they battled for supremacy in the final on-stage showdown before the “Super Tuesday” series of statewide votes on March 1.

Cruz and Rubio mounted a furious assault against Trump, blasting the front-runner for hiring foreigners and challenging his commitment to conservative principles, but Trump largely stood his ground and swatted away the attacks.

Knowing that they need to change the campaign trail narrative quickly — or risk Trump coasting to the Republican nomination — the two freshman senators launched broadsides against the brash billionaire, who lashed out at his challengers in what quickly devolved into a shouting match.

The tone reflected the fierce battle under way ahead of “Super Tuesday” next week, when 12 states — including Cruz’s huge state of Texas — go to the polls in perhaps the most consequential voting day of the 2016 primary campaign.

Should Trump win most of the states, it could be lights out for his rivals, who also include two lesser candidates in retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

read more: