Chris Christie to visit Israel this weekend: CNN exclusive

By | November 10, 2023

John Locher/AP

Republican presidential candidate and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks at an annual meeting of leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday, October 28.


Former governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie will visit Israel on Sunday, making him the first Republican presidential candidate to visit the country since the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Christie, who has made American leadership on the world stage a focal point of his campaign, confirmed the trip, which was first reported by CNN, at a New Hampshire town hall on Thursday.

The former New Jersey governor said he would meet with the families of those kidnapped by Hamas, as well as Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Israeli government officials.

He is also expected to visit the so-called Gaza envelope region in southern Israel, according to a travel itinerary shared with CNN.

In what could have been a preview of his discussions this weekend with Israeli officials, Christie urged Israel to desist the debate phase Wednesday evening in Miami, to protect both its territorial integrity and the safety of its civilians and to ensure that “Hamas can never do this again.”

“The fact is that Israel and its intelligence community have failed. They have failed here, and they have failed the people of the State of Israel,” he argued, saying the United States must work closely with Israel to improve intelligence collection in the region. .

He also encouraged Israeli leaders to “keep their eyes on the ball,” in terms of working with “reasonable” Arab nations and isolating Iran in the Middle East.

Christie told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday that he believes talk of a two-state solution in the region “should have stopped permanently” following the Hamas attacks, although he has previously expressed support to this ultimate result.

“I think there can be no discussion at this time about a two-state solution until we have the capacity of Hamas to carry out this type of terrorist attack again,” he said. he declared on “AC360”.

This won’t be Christie’s first time visiting Israel — he visited the country in 2012 during his first foreign trip as governor.

Christie, who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev just months after launching his 2024 presidential bid, has placed resistance to U.S. adversaries abroad at the heart of his vision for America and distanced itself from rivals reluctant to provide wartime aid to allies. .

“This is the price we pay for being leaders of the free world,” he said Wednesday, accusing China, Iran and North Korea of ​​working to support Russia because “dictators work together”.

After returning from Israel, Christie is expected to deliver a foreign policy speech at the Hudson Institute on Wednesday and further outline his worldview.

President Joe Biden visited Israel last month on an extraordinary wartime trip to Tel Aviv, where he expressed support for the country’s right to defend itself and advocated for relief from the suffering of civilians in Gaza.

At the time, Christie said he thought it was “the right thing” for Biden to go to Israel and show “physical solidarity” with the US ally.

Since then, Israel has expanded its ground operations in Gaza, and growing political divisions have erupted in the United States and around the world over whether a ceasefire should be implemented.

The White House announced Thursday that Israel had agreed to four-hour daily pauses in military operations in areas of northern Gaza.

Christie previously told CNN that he did not believe a humanitarian pause in Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza would ultimately allow American hostages to leave the region.

“Look, I think if we could get the Americans out, that would be a goal to achieve, but I don’t think it would happen. I think what Hamas wants is not a break. They would like a guarantee that Israel will not invade Gaza at all. And we cannot give them that guarantee because of the attack they carried out on October 7,” he said late last month.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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