Both US Republican presidential front-runners slammed US President
Barack Obama’s policy on Israel Tuesday morning, days before the
expected United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood. Texas Governor
Rick Perry and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney blamed Obama
for the upcoming UN vote, even though the US delegation was expected to
veto the Palestinian initiative in the Security Council.
Speaking at a Likud supporters’ rally in New York City, Perry said that
he was “indignant of the Obama administration and their Middle East
policy of appeasement that has encouraged such an ominous act of bad
US Republicans take aim at Jewish vote in 2012
Perry to hold pro-Israel press conference this week
“Simply put,” he continued “we would not be here today at this very
precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle
East was not naive and arrogant, misguided and dangerous.”
Perry blasted what he described as “the Obama policy of moral equal,
which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and
Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism,” describing it
as “a very dangerous insult.”
“There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their
destruction,” Perry told the Likud supporters. “America should not be
ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security
tactics of the legitimate and free State of Israel.”
In advance of the speech, Perry’s closest rival, Romney, called on the
US to cut aid to the Palestinians, and also blamed Obama for causing the
current “diplomatic crisis” at the UN.
Romney said that he believes the US should “cut foreign assistance to
the Palestinians, as well as reevaluate its funding of UN programs and
its relationship with any nation voting in favor of recognition” for
Palestinians at the UN.
He added that the Palestinian petition at the UN is the “culmination” of
the president’s policies, which have shown disregard for the Israeli
Obama, said Romney, has made “repeated efforts over three years to throw
Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position,” and that
Obama must “reaffirm the United States’ commitment to the security of
Israel and its continued existence as a Jewish state” during his speech
at the UN this week.
Romney insisted that Obama should declare the US will cut funding to the
Palestinian Authority – $500 million annually in aid – and reevaluate
its relations with any nation that votes in favor of Palestinian state
The National Jewish Democratic Council quickly responded to Perry’s remarks.
NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris issued a statement claiming that “Perry’s comments today
demonstrate that he clearly has little command of the US-Israel
relationship and even less interest in preserving the historic
bipartisan support for Israel.
His baseless attacks on President Barack Obama’s strong record of
support for Israel and the actions that the president and his
administration are taking to beat back the Palestinian’s unilateral
initiative are nothing more than a deeply disturbing ploy to inject
domestic politics into the US-Israel relationship.”
Harris’s complained that “it is long past time for Perry and other
Republicans to heed the advice of those genuinely working towards
bipartisan support for Israel, and to quit playing political games with
support for Israel.”
“It appears that Perry and others like him are not thinking beyond their immediate political concerns,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Perry entered the foreign-policy debate surrounding
America’s support for Israel in an opinion piece in The Wall Street
Journal, in which he said that he supported the US utilizing its
Security Council veto, but that he believed cutting aid to the
Palestinians should be conditional to their willingness to return to
negotiations with the Israelis.
Also on Tuesday, a group of 14 US senators called on Obama to “issue a
strongly worded defense of Israel during his address to the United
Nations General Assembly on Wednesday,” and said that “political and
physical” attacks on Israel threaten Middle East peace and stability.
The senators wrote a letter to the US president in which they
highlighted the recent “troubling” developments in the Middle East,
including the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, the anti-Israel
rhetoric of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the
unilateral Palestinian decision to head to the UN for state recognition.
“We believe it is imperative for you to speak strongly, forthrightly and
publicly about US concerns over these developments,” the senators
wrote, adding “we need to make it clear that we will not tolerate
continued threats to Israel by governments or individuals in the region
or attempts to delegitimize Israel at the UN or other international
Meanwhile, Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, who appeared with Perry on Tuesday at a pro-Israel rally in New York, told the The Washington
Times that he invited the Texas governor to visit Israel as soon as next month.
“[Perry] told me that he would be very happy to come, and we will try to
work out a date that will be available for him to come — probably it
will be in October or November — and I’m looking forward to hosting him
in Israel,” Danon said.
Perry’s spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
a trip has not been planned yet.
Perry last visited Israel in 2009 to accept the Defender of Jerusalem
Award, offered to public figures who have demonstrated support for
Israel and its capital Jerusalem.
Oren Kessler contributed to this report.