Perry weighs in on Palestinian statehood controversy
September 20th, 2011
11:30 AM ET
3 years ago

Perry weighs in on Palestinian statehood controversy

(CNN) - Rick Perry Tuesday jumped directly into the battle over possible statehood for Palestinians, slamming President Barack Obama for his policy toward Israel and how he's handled the Mideast peace process.

"The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult. There is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction," said the Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate, as he went before cameras about 25 blocks from the United Nations, where the Palestinian Authority this week will seek formal recognition of statehood by the United Nations General Assembly.

After meeting with a leading Israeli politician as well as some Jewish American leaders, Perry said that "America should not be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel. By proposing 'indirect talks' through the U.S. rather than between Palestinian leaders and Israel, this administration encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct talks."

The front-runner in the battle for the GOP presidential nomination charged that it was "wrong for this administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. When you consider this suggestion was made on the eve of the Israeli prime minister's visit, we see in this American administration a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is insulting and naïve."

Perry did affirm, however, his commitment to a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians but noted that any agreement would have Jerusalem whole and under complete Israeli control. He also said that he would move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Perry's visit to New York came as the president spends three days at the United Nations, meeting with world leaders. Obama is expected to meet later this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two men have had some very public disagreements this year over how to move forward on the Middle East peace policy.

The U.S. vows to veto Palestinian statehood in the Security Council, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is working with other diplomats to avoid a divisive showdown on the controversial issue. And the Obama administration points out that Israel's security is a top concern for the White House.

"The United States is un-alterably, is absolutely committed to the security of Israel," National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told CNN.

Standing behind Perry at his news conference was the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, Likud member Danny Danon, who has been extremely critical of the Obama administration's policy towards Israel.

Also standing directly behind Perry was Rep. Dan Turner of New York's ninth congressional district. Turner, a Republican, scored an upset victory last Tuesday in a special congressional election to capture the seat, which was long held by Democrats. Obama's policy towards Israel was a major issue in the special election, in a district that has a heavy Jewish electorate.

Perry isn't the only Republican presidential candidate to criticize Obama over Israel.

"What we are watching unfold at the United Nations is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster. It is the culmination of President Obama's repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position. That policy must stop now," said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, in an email release Tuesday morning. "In his speech to the U.N. this week, President Obama must unequivocally reaffirm the United States' commitment to the security of Israel and its continued existence as a Jewish state."

And in an interview Monday on CNN's "The Situation Room," Rep. Michele Bachmann told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "I don't believe Israel should have to give away any more of its land. The president hasn't done Israel any favors."

Primary campaign politics is a factor in this fight. Social conservative and evangelical voters are strong supporters of Israel, and they also will be very influential in choosing the next Republican presidential nominee, especially in such states as Iowa, which votes first in the caucus and primary calendar, and South Carolina, which holds the first southern contest in the road to the White House.

But general election politics is also at play. According to CNN exit polls, then Sen. Obama won nearly 80 percent of Jewish vote in the 2008 presidential election. While they only made up two percent of the voting electorate three years ago, they may be a factor in next year's general election. In potential close calls in some battleground states, such as Florida, where there is a large Jewish population, they could be the difference in determining who wins the electoral vote rich state.

According to a Gallup poll released Friday, the president's approval rating among Jewish American voters now stands at 54 percent, down from earlier this year, but still above his approval rating among all Americans.


Filed under: 2012 • Rick Perry
soundoff (388 Responses)
  1. Al

    So. This is wonderful. We now know that Perry holds Israel higher than the needs of the U.S. With luck, he will move to the middle east.

    September 20, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  2. SiriusVH

    Given the importance of Israel in American politics, it might be more efficient to have Israel become another state of the Union. Or we could move the Congress and the White House to Jerusalem ....

    September 20, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. SCAtheist

    We're going to let someone who thinks an interpretation of Revelation (which is a stretch if you read about it) should be the basis of our forein policy be president?

    Even South Carolina is turning on him.

    September 20, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Morales

    Sucking up to a foreign nation is what Republicans do best. Lets just have Israel run the USA instead, Why bother with democracy?

    September 20, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Ross DiRienzo

    Terry, Va et al: probably you wouldn't be able to locate Israel and Palestine on a map if your lives depended on it!

    September 20, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. susan/ california

    Perry has no business speaking out on Isreal and state matters.He can cause us such problems in the Middle East. He acts like he already is the nominee. I don't understand why the Republican party is so wesk letting this guy control things at such an early junction. He is really one scary guy with alienating positions. Makes you almost long for the Bush Days naught.

    September 20, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Stanton

    just when you think republicans can't be pathetic enough, riding to the rescue is a new boob from texas. just great! perry ain't smart enough to run a dog & pony show let alone understand the middle east.

    September 20, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Jenna NYC

    I lay the blame for this fiasco squarely at the feet of President Obama who stated last year at the United Nations that he supported statehood of the Palestinians. He treated Netanyahu abominably....I was pretty disgusted. Perry is 100% correct on this. (although I don't see what moving the Embassy to Jerusalem is all about)

    September 20, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. CitizenUSA

    I'm not saying Obama has "the plan" for middle-east peace, (not sure anyone will), but Rick Perry's past experience with Jews is limited to juggling Matzo Balls.

    September 20, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Michael

    Why on earth would you label a statement like Rick Perry's a "rant"? Probably because you guys would've termed a few choice speeches of Adolf Hitler to the Reichstag "thoughtful analyses". You're not fooling anybody!

    September 20, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Voiceinthewind

    What a menatl midget Scerry is. he needs to go back to Texas and get his people some jobs and try to improve thier poveryt rate. Since both are above the national average I would hate to see what will happen if he became Prsident by some starnge coincident or by using The Shrub's method and just rig the election by lying and stealing.

    September 20, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. Jenny

    Gov. Perry is an evangelical Christian who believes in the doctrine of Dominionism. More specifically, he believes that it is God's preference that Christian dominate the world in politics, government, culture, the arts, education and so on. His motivation for supporting Israel are simple according to his evangelical beliefs: get as many Jews to move to Israel so that they can be converted to Christianity and to hasten the end of time – the apocalypse.

    September 20, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. cured76

    Sweet, we can bomb the Palestinians under a Perry regime. Awesome, let's speed up the arrival of the Rapture!

    /vomit

    September 20, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Brad5013

    I wonder how Ricky Perry would like it if Mexico occupied Texas, and built settlements in his back yard with support from the US . . .

    September 20, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Steve

    Howdy-Doodie speaks, but we know who is pulling the strings.

    September 20, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Perry calls Social Security a Ponzi Scheme....what does he call our welfare or warfare handouts to Israel?

    September 20, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Teapubicans have more SUPPORT for Israel than the Office of the President of the United States of America!

    September 20, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Why can't Palestine have a country of their own?

    September 20, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  19. Roger

    Civility has certainly gone out of the window during this election season. Do not let this man anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! I have at times been disappointed with President Obama and am glad to see he's finally got some fire in his belly and is telling it like it is and should be. Do not be fooled by these ultra right wingers who still think that tax cuts create jobs! If a moderate realistic Republican chooses to run in 2016 then fine, but right now it is imperative that President Obama be re-elected to spare our country from one of these right wing nut jobs.

    September 20, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. destruk

    Hatemonger – of course Palestinians are not afforded the same human rights as Israelis, DUH

    September 20, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Metron

    Obama betrayed this nation when he said we are not a Christian nation. He means to destroy America's power.

    September 20, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. Kenneth the VI of Minneapolis

    Rick Perry is a 'border' expert....Texas has the most secure border in the 'free world.'

    September 20, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    Perry just lost my vote.

    I like what he says about money, but too often he lets his religion supercede judgement and I just can't trust people who do that.

    September 20, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. doug

    Obama's support of suicide bombers must come from his love for his mentor Bill Ayers.

    September 20, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. james Miller

    Republican presidential want-a-be`s will criticize every move Obama makes.--- It`s politics. What`s good and right be damned-it`s politics.

    September 20, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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