In a CNN hosted Republican presidential debate on Thursday night in Houston, Texas, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) accused his opponent Donald Trump of showing an "anti-Israel" stance.
Rubio, along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), referenced Trump's comments from a week ago on Wednesday, when he promised to be "neutral" and "unpredictable" in pressing peace talks on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Defending himself, Trump claimed that it would be counterproductive to pledge his support for one side as a negotiator, even while calling himself "very pro-Israel" and noting he has given large donations to Israel in the past. At the same time, he said achieving "peace" would be one of his greatest "achievements."
Rubio argued that a deal given the current "makeup of the Palestinians is not possible," and vowed to be "on Israel's side every single day." He went on to say a "deal with terrorism" is "not a real estate deal."
Trump's comments about being "neutral" have led to criticism not only from Rubio and Cruz, but also from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. On Sunday, she said he "missed the mark," but she likewise slammed Cruz for not being "neutral" enough, claiming she would defend Israel – at the same time as she vowed to force through a two-state solution dividing the Jewish state.
In the debate on Thursday night, Rubio gave a strong showing, criticizing Trump for not having detailed policy plans and noting that the real estate mogul has already gone bankrupt four times in the past.
Rubio also pointed out that Trump used imported Polish workers at a Florida resort, which flies in the face of his press for American labor, and said without a large family inheritance Trump would now be "selling watches in Manhattan."
The debate comes before Super Tuesday next week, when 11 states hold caucuses on the same day and 600 delegates are up for grabs. So far Trump has won three states, while Cruz has taken Iowa.
Trump is leading the Republican race with 81 delegates so far, as compared to Cruz and Rubio who each have 17. A total of 1,237 delegates are needed for the nomination.