Danon denies endorsing Perry following PM's criticism

Likud MK says that his ties with US Republicans "influence Obama, who won't want to battle a pro-Israel congress in an election year."

MK Danny Danon 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Danny Danon 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Danny Danon (Likud) denied on Sunday he had endorsed American Republican primary candidate Governor Rick Perry, following an interview in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Danon should stay out of American politics.
“I appreciate the activities of anyone who supports Israel, whether they are Republicans or Democrats,” Danon explained.
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The deputy Knesset speaker said he had met with many Republican candidates, including Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, who has yet to announce her candidacy, and Mike Huckabee, who has since dropped out of the race, saying his participation in a pro-Israel demonstration with Perry does not indicate endorsement.
“The only campaign I have joined is my own campaign,” Danon said. “However, I am sure that if one of [the Republican candidates] will reach the White House, he or she will always have an open door for Israel.”
Danon said he will “stand on the same stage as anyone who supports Israel,” mentioning Representative Eliot Engel (DNew York) as an example of a pro-Israel Democrat he has met with in the past. Engel, along with four other Democrats, proposed a bill earlier this month that would limit aid to states voting in favor of Palestinian statehood in the UN.
Netanyahu said in an interview with CNN on Friday that Danon should not have attended a recent internal American political event featuring Perry.
Asked about the deputy Knesset speaker’s participation in the event and “effective endorsement” of a Republican presidential candidate, Netanyahu said, “I don’t like this either.”
Saying he had no prior knowledge about Danon’s participation in the US political event, Netanyahu said had he known, “I would have told him to stay out of American politics.”
“I have been criticized for my cooperation with Republicans,” Danon told The Jerusalem Post, “but I think that I am putting pressure on the Democrats and influencing Obama to be more pro-Israel.
My rally with Perry and Representative Bob Turner (R-New York) had an influence in Washington.”
According to Danon, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah proposed a bill to cut US aid to the Palestinian Authority as it pursues a unilateral statehood bid in the UN. Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) also supported such a move.
“The Prime Minister’s Office said it should wait with the bills, but if the PA goes for it, I don’t think the prime minister would oppose cutting funds,” the Likud MK said. “One of the bills could pass, because the US president won’t want to face off with a pro-Israel Congress in an election year. The Americans don’t want to be suckers, either.”
Danon has also said a bill by Representative Joe Walsh (RIllinois), which is modeled after the Likud MK’s proposed bill calling for the cancellation of the Oslo Accords and the annexation of Judea and Samaria, is gaining momentum. It was signed by 40 congressmen, he explained.
“In Israel, [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman has said he would support the move, as have many in the Likud,” Danon said. “I plan to push annexation by meeting with Lieberman and the religious parties in the Knesset, and get a majority in the coalition.”