Presidential Election Cheat Sheet: Jeb Bush and Israel

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” (Proverbs 19:2)

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for presidency. The son and brother of two US presidents, Bush’s politics are in line with the GOP establishment, sometimes coming under fire from more right-wing candidates in his party.

Here are his stances on a range of issues of importance to Israel.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Bush has said repeatedly that he supports a two-state solution as the key to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. According to a campaign spokesman, Bush believes “both sides must be represented by leaders who have the ability to uphold the promise made at the negotiating table — something the Palestinian people do not have right now.”

He also added, “Israel is right to be skeptical of the Palestinian leadership’s ability to deliver.”

Bush reiterated his position recently at the annual Christians United for Israel (CUFI) summit in Washington, DC. In an interview, the former governor stated that it was “in the interest of the United States for a Palestinian state to come into existence,” adding that any agreement “has to be under the right conditions.”

Bush has explained that he would look to his brother, former US President George W. Bush, as his primary advisor on Israel policy. In early 2008, George W. referred to settlements in Judea and Samaria as an “impediment” to peace.

However, in a March editorial for the National Review, Jeb Bush responded to the Obama administration’s criticism of plans to expand Jerusalem in areas beyond the Green Line: “The Obama administration treats announcements of new apartment buildings in Jerusalem like acts of aggression…This is no way to treat an ally.”

Iran

The former governor opposes the recently signed nuclear deal with Iran. On the day the deal was announced, he released a statement calling it a “dangerous, deeply flawed, and short sighted deal.”

Bush criticized the agreement for not including surprise inspections, for limiting most restrictions on Iran’s nuclear enrichment and weapons development to only 10 to 15 years, and slammed the West’s decision to provide the Iranian regime with more than $100 billion in sanctions relief, allowing it to continue its global sponsorship of terrorism.

Does your state stand with Israel?

“Iran hasn’t recognized Israel and its right to be a Jewish state…and you’re likely to have our strongest ally in the region be threatened. So I think this is a horrific deal,” Bush told an audience at the National Review Institute Ideas Summit in April.

US-Israel Relations

Bush has vowed to restore the relationship between Israel and the US. During his announcement that he would be running for president, Bush said he would rebuild friendships vital to the US, adding, “That starts by standing with the brave, democratic State of Israel.”

The former governor defended Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress in March, saying that the Israeli leader had every right to speak his mind against the Iran deal. Bush has said it was wrong of Washington to publicly clash with Israel.

Bush’s foreign policy advisor, James Baker, landed the GOP candidate in hot water for comments made during the J Street conference in March. Speaking to the leftist policy group, Baker blasted Netanyahu for “diplomatic missteps and political gamesmanship.”

In response, Bush said in a radio interview with Brian Kilmeade that Baker is “a sage, smart man with a vast amount of experience” but that he “did not believe that it was appropriate to go speak to J Street, a group that basically has anti-Israeli sentiments.”

A Bush spokesperson explained, “While he [Bush] respects Secretary Baker, he disagrees with the sentiments he expressed…Governor Bush’s support for Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwavering.”

Israel’s Right to Self-Defense/Security

While he was still governor of Florida, Bush pledged to support Israel in its battle against terrorism and said Americans have a better understanding of the fear Israelis face on a daily basis after the tragic 9/11 attacks.

In response to Baker’s J Street speech criticizing Israel’s security efforts, a Bush spokesperson stated that he “firmly opposes lobbying groups whose actions undermine Israel’s efforts to defend itself.”