The Obama administration recently spoke out against Israel allowing the group to pursue plans to turn an old building known as the Shepherd Hotel, in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, into a 20-unit apartment complex for Israelis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been at odds with Obama's position, insisting that he would not accept limits on Israel building anywhere in the city it considers its "eternal and undivided" capital.
Irving Moskowitz, the Jewish-American millionaire who bought the hotel and gave it to the settler group, donated $2,300 – the maximum contribution limit at the time – to Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign, as did Moskowitz' wife, Cherna, according to the campaign-finance tracking website opensecrets.org. The couple gave a total of $50,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2007.
Huckabee, who was scheduled to speak at a dinner Monday at Shepherd Hotel, said that while his three-day trip to Israel was not timed to rebuff Obama's Middle East policy, it was opportune nonetheless.
"The timing was not specifically tied to the Obama administration's policies, but maybe it's providential that it coincides because it does point out that those policies are a dramatic change from the position that the US government under both Democratic and Republican presidents have taken," he said in Abu Dis, the sweeping backdrop of Jerusalem behind him and a bevy of reporters and supporters in tow.