Donald Trump
Donald Trump Reuters

The billionaire Republican frontrunner for president, Donald Trump, attempted to woo Jewish voters Thursday but raised concerns by leaving open the option of dividing Jerusalem, and likewise raised eyebrows playing up old Jewish stereotypes.

"I'm leaving for Israel in a very short period of time," he told the Jewish Republican Coalition in Washington DC during a campaign stop in which he sought to burnish his Jewish ties.

His daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism upon her marriage, as a result is no longer reachable on Shabbat he joked.

But despite warm applause and laughter, the tycoon was booed when he refused to call Jerusalem the undivided capital of Israel, saying he first wanted to meet Binyamin Netanyahu.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Trump's competitors, said earlier at the Jewish Republican Coalition on Thursday that they would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a starkly different approach to the 3,000-year-old capital of the Jewish people.

The statement strengthens concerns from an interview Trump gave earlier on Thursday, stating that forcing peace talks on Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) is at the top of his priorities.

He also placed the onus for the lack of peace on the Jewish state, saying, "a lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal - whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things."

"Jews want to control politicians with money"

At the Jewish Republican Coalition, Trump also parroted stereotypes of Jews, likening himself to many in the room by presenting himself as a good negotiator and the ultimate deal maker.

"With us, we have a deal instinct, a lot of us," he said, claiming that he could put his talents to good use in brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal after decades of conflict.

"Is there anybody that doesn't re-negotiate deals in this room?" he said to laughs. "Perhaps more than any room I've ever spoken to. Maybe more."

He appeared to make a further crass stereotype about Jews by alluding to his personal wealth and public refusal to accept money from party donors.

"You're not going to support me because I don't want your money," he told the audience. "You want to control your own politicians, that's fine."

He said Israel had "given a lot" in the name of peace, and said the Jewish state had not always been given a lot of credit for that - but went on to call for them to give more in a "final step."

"I don't know whether or not they want to go that final step, and that's going to be up to them, but Israel has not been given the credit that they deserve for what they've done."

He later told reporters that his meeting with the Israeli premier had been scheduled, but he refused to divulge the exact date.

AFP contributed to this report.