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Story highlights

Mike Huckabee on Wednesday rejected the notion that the West Bank is occupied territory

The comments fly in the face of international law and longstanding U.S. policy

(CNN) —  

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Wednesday rejected the notion that the West Bank is occupied territory insisting instead that the largely Palestinian-populated territory is part of Israel.

Huckabee’s statements – during a trip to Israel – fly in the face of international law and longstanding U.S. policy, which consider the West Bank as occupied territory and the construction of additional settlements in that territory illegal.

“I don’t see it as occupied,” Huckabee said Wednesday during a press conference in Jerusalem. “That makes it appear as if someone is illegally taking land. I don’t see it that way.”

Huckabee also suggested a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – another hallmark of successive U.S. administrations – is “unrealistic and unworkable.”

He said he has never supported a two-state solution that would see Israelis removed from their homes in settlements in the West Bank, but refused to say how he would deal with the millions of Palestinians living in the region without a two-state solution.

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Huckabee also refused to call the West Bank by that name, instead referring to the territory – which is home to the Palestinian seat of government – as Judea and Samaria, the region’s biblical name.

And he slammed a decades-old U.S. policy of condemning Israeli settlement building in the West Bank, which past American presidents of both parties have called counterproductive to peace.

“It is interesting to me that our government has often put more pressure on the Israeli government to stop building bedrooms in their own neighborhoods, than they put on Iran to stop building bombs,” Huckabee said Wednesday.

During his swing to Israel, the latest of many visits he’s made to the country since 1973, Huckabee also visited the Israeli settlement of Shiloh, a key site of Jewish worship in the Bible.

Huckabee also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli government officials to discuss U.S.-Israel relations and shared concerns over the Iran deal.