New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, campaigning for president in New Hampshire, said the U.S. would have “no right” to stop Israel from using military force to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.

Christie said Wednesday at a Republican forum that he’d look to have a conversation with Israel prior to any military action, which he said would be the proper course for “friends and allies.” A former federal prosecutor, Christie, 52, has called for expanding the military and government intelligence-gathering as part of his foreign policy.

The governor is trying to jump-start his prospects ahead of the first Republican debate on Aug. 6 by talking to voters in New Hampshire, the state with the first primary. Fox News, the debate sponsor, plans to winnow the party’s field of 16 candidates to 10 by using an average of five national polls. The RealClearPolitics polling average currently has Christie in ninth place.

“We don’t have the right to stop Israel from acting in what they believe to be their national interest,” Christie said during a foreign-policy forum in Manchester organized by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security, a group led by former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. “Do I believe the United States should unilaterally stop Israel? The answer is no because Israel has an absolute right of self-determination and to defend itself.”

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