New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cautioned against Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday following his first-ever trip to Israel earlier this month, Christie, who has been mentioned by Republicans as a possible vice presidential pick, said the most “eye-opening” part of his trip was a helicopter tour over part of the West Bank with Israeli military officials. Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush expressed a similar sentiment after taking a similar helicopter tour in 1998 with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon.
“Everyone who thinks they have an opinion that's worth something on the Palestinian issue should take that tour,” Christie said. The helicopter ride took “three minutes from West Bank settlements to the Mediterranean. A missile goes much faster than a helicopter.”
Christie billed the trip, called “Jersey to Jerusalem,” as an “economic growth, diplomacy [and] observance” mission. He met with leaders of several Israeli companies, including Teva Pharmaceuticals and Project Better Place — the electric car startup — but the trip also focused on Israeli defense and policy.
The first-term governor added that he hoped to “expand my portfolio” as an up-and-coming national voice of his party. But last year he said he does not intend to seek national office during this gubernatorial term.
During the April 1-5 trip, Christie met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed Israel’s security concerns and Iran’s nuclear program.
Christie called his meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, 89, like “walking into a history book.”
He did not meet with any leaders of the Palestinian Authority during the trip. After Israel, the Christie family spent a weekend with King Abdullah of Jordan.