Texas Republican Ron Paul, known for wanting to cut aid to Israel and other countries, has backed recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
"The real issue here is not what America wants, but what does Israel want," Paul said, according to a transcript of a meeting with evangelical leaders obtained by Business Insider. "If Israel wants their capital to be Jerusalem, then the United States should honor that."
The former presidential hopeful was considered by many Israeli supporters as being against the country because of his favoring curbing foreign aid to Israel. However, his view actually is the same to other countries, a policy that might leave Israel more independent of political pressure from the American government.
In his meeting with evangelical leaders, he was asked if he would sign, as president, an order carrying out the Congressional law that the American embassy be moved to Jerusalem. The law contains a waiver, exercised by presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, that moving the embassy can be postponed for “national security reasons.”
"How would we like it if some other nation said, 'We decided to recognize New York City as your capital instead, so we will build our embassy there?'" he added.
Paul’s senior advisor Doug Wead told Business Insider. "We were floored” by his position on Jerusalem. "It sounds like pure Ron Paul, but it still caught us off guard...If someone would have asked him that in a national debate, I suppose it would have popped right out, but nobody did."
Wead added that Paul's position "makes sense after the fact," noting that the candidate has frequently emphasized Israel's sovereignty.
Mitt Romney, the acknowledged Republican presidential candidate, has stated only that he "would like to see the U.S. Embassy eventually moved to Jerusalem," campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said in a statement emailed to Business Insider.
Paul has argued that Israel should be more independent and previously has stated, "The surrounding Arab nations get seven times as much aid as Israel gets….
“We have adopted a foreign policy that has left Israel surrounded by militaristic nations while undermining Israel's sovereignty by demanding that its foreign and defense policies be essentially pre-approved in Washington.”
In 1981, Paul backed Israel’s right to bomb Iraq's Osirak nuclear plant in 1981, but he earned the anger of Israeli supporters for comparing Gaza Arabs with the fate of Jews in German concentration camps.”
He also has expressed disagreement with the view of Newt Gingrich, also out of the running for the Republican presidential nomination, that the “Palestinians” as a people is an invention.
"No, I don't agree with that. And that's just stirring up trouble. And I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy. I don't think we should get in the middle of these squabbles. But to go out of our way and say that so-and-so is not a real people? Technically and historically, yes-- you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn't have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too,” Paul commented.