GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of defense, Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis (Ret.), in the past pushed for a two-state solution for Israel and condemned the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Past stances threaten to deepen the already growing rift between Trump and Mattis, which has again erupted recently over Trump’s choice of Pentagon staffers, The Seattle Times reports.
In a speech from 2011, Mattis not only advocated for a two-state solution, but praised Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state, for her work pushing this idea forward.
“Israel and Palestine, the current situation between those two peoples is unsustainable,” Mattis said. “We’re going to have to find a way for a two-state solution. If we do not, then we will continue to see warfare as it keeps the kettle boiling out there.”
“That is why you see so much of Secretary Clinton’s efforts go into trying to keep this peace effort at least alive,” Mattis added.
Mattis reiterated this position in 2013 and stressed that additional Israeli settlements in the West Bank could even result in apartheid, not to mention rendering the prospect of a two-state solution impossible. He said that the perception America was biased in favor of Israel was a constant thorn in his side while he served as head of U.S. Central Command.
Such a disparate view places Mattis directly in opposition to Trump, who is vehemently pro-Israel, so much so he’s pledged to move to the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, an incredibly controversial move. But differences over Israel’s place in American foreign policy isn’t the first time Mattis and Trump have clashed. Mattis is reportedly critical of many candidates Trump’s transition team is proposing for top positions in the Pentagon, causing frustration in some quarters. Trump’s pick of Vincent Viola for secretary of the Army made Mattis furious, according to reports.
“It made him suspicious of the transition team, and things devolved from there,” one transition source told The Washington Post.
Mattis has already managed to persuade Trump to rethink his pro-torture position, but revelations of Mattis’ views of Israel — a touchy subject for the Republican Party and especially for the Trump team — may further sour the already strained relationship.
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