JERUSALEM — Potential 2012 U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said Tuesday that if Palestinians want an independent state, they should seek it from Arabs – not Israel.
The evangelical minister and Fox News host said Jews should be allowed to settle anywhere throughout the biblical Land of Israel – an area that includes the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
He called the demand on Israel to give up land for peace an "unrealistic, unworkable and unreachable goal."
Most of the international community – including President Barack Obama – considers Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal because they are built on occupied land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim both areas for a future state.
Huckabee suggested that a Palestinian state were to be established, it shouldn't come at Israel's expense.
"There are vast amounts of territory that are in the hands of Muslims, in the hands of Arabs. Maybe the international community can come together and accommodate," he said in a meeting with reporters.
Huckabee makes frequent trips to Israel to voice support for Jewish settlements.
He's currently being hosted by The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, a group that promotes settlements in an attempt to bolster a Jewish presence in mostly Arab areas. Joined by actor Jon Voight on the three-day visit, Huckabee's itinerary includes tours of Jewish settlements and meetings with Israeli leaders.
Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and a presidential contender in 2008, is expected to seek the Republican nomination to run against Obama in 2012.
He said that as president he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – affirming Israel's position that the city should be its undivided and eternal capital – and said he would not pressure Israel into making any territorial concessions.
He was critical of previous U.S. attempts to broker a peace agreement with Palestinians, who he says have yet to truly recognize Israel's right to exist within secure borders.
"I know my view on this may be seen as the minority, out of the mainstream of the more politically correct idealistic view that we can just have a conference or a meeting and bring the diplomats together, toast marshmallows, build a camp fire and sing Kumbaya. It has not happened. I'm not confident that it ever could or would," he said.
He said any peace agreement has to recognize that "the Jewish people have indigenous rights to the land in which they occupy and live and it goes back not 60 years or 80 years but it goes back 3,500 years."