Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee waded into Middle East politics on Tuesday by declaring the West Bank to be part of Israel.

Huckabee was speaking to reporters at Ancient Shiloh, for which a modern settlement nearby is named and where tradition holds the ancient Israelites kept the tabernacle with Moses' tablets on its way to Jerusalem.

"I am delighted tonight to be here at Shiloh. It is an exciting place and an important place. It is the place where the tabernacle once was. It's a place of Biblical history," he said.

He told reporters "if you're going to visit Israel you should visit all of Israel, and that would include Judea and Samaria," the biblical names for the West Bank.

His comments on the West Bank are at odds with U.S policy.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians demand the area, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, for a future state.

The fate of West Bank settlements is one of the core issues at the heart of the conflict.

Huckabee is visiting Israel to meet with officials to discuss the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran.