Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter and Jewish liason for President George W. Bush, has a theory (in the Forward) for why Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, two possible 2012 Republican presidential candidates, have opposed a West Bank settlement freeze more vociferously and more loudly than even many of their Republican rivals:

their focus on settlements could also be seen as a calculated political move to distinguish themselves from the Republican pack. With virtually the entire Congress—Democrats and Republicans—reliably lining up to support Israel on the easy stuff, you can’t make your mark unless you take on the hard stuff and go further than anyone else.

Palin and Huckabee may also genuinely believe that a settlement freeze is as dangerous as they say. Still, it’s worth distinguishing the robustness of their opposition from that of other potential Republican candidates, who, says Neusner, “have found a way to take issue with the Obama administration’s stance on settlements without climbing out on the limb that Huckabee and Palin have.” For example, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the minority whip, has simply called the whole settlement issue a “distraction” from the more important matter of Iran’s nuclear program. Cantor probably does not need to make quite the same effort to distinguish himself on Middle East concerns, particularly among voters who share his Jewish faith.

Why Palin and Huckabee Dig Settlements [Forward]