(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.
Cedar Rapids: Perry has no integrity. I live in Texas and his motto is the poor and unemployed be damned. Only me and my buddies should make a living.
Glad he brought that out. Now I can cross him off my my vote this.
Israel – What a filthy excuse for a country.
We need to export all our jewish politicians back to there and then let the Arabs have at them LOL
Personally, I think treating Palestinians like human beings is a step in the right direction. I'm sorry if this offends Lieberman and the Neo-cons. See how often a group of people attack you if you treat them better than the wasp on the wall. The extremists in the group can be suppressed by the majority if the majority thinks peace is a better option and that seems to be all Obama is doing... ok not very well, but at least the idea is based in a somewhat rational understanding of human beings. Rick Perry's solution probably has a catchy tune like McCain's hit, "Bomb bomb Iran"
I thought that when you're an ally, both sides benefit to some extent...
...I have yet to find out how we have benefited from Israel, or what Israel has ever done for the US, besides send their spies here to steal our military secrets...
I wish all those republicans make the same speeches when it comes to support the needy in America, here at home. How easy its to sell your sole for a vote. Arab Americans and Muslims (Pakistani, Indians, African American, Asians) also vote in the elections and they count more than 2% Jewish vote.
Hey Darth Vadik and Alex,
Couldn't agree more with both yours comments. And too think we blindly throw billions at them every year so they can be like that.
Someday us Americans will put an end to that.
The problem with supporting Israel has to do with a wrong literalist interpretation of the bible by most christian evangelicals: the dispensation of the Jews is imminent so the rapture can take place bla bla bla and the world will come to an end. In short by supporting Israel we actually going to go to heaven sooner-the more we help them no matter how ..... the sooner we will be in heaven. I am a Christian but I don't subscribe to the apocalyptical phantesies of this uneducated evangelical subculture from where Mr. Perry belongs.
Political pandering of the highest order! Another piece to the construct of today's Elmer Gantry. Rick Perry is a snake oil peddler trying to authenticate himself. I grew up in the south–the vast majority of these right winged religious southern whites are not 5 years away from being frothing anti-Semites–they are the real sheep in wolf clothing. Ask him if he believes Jews will convert to Christianity.
I can just see old Rick sidling up to the deli bar for a noodle kugel and some chopped liver. Wearing a yarmulke, eh Rick? Defender of the Jews? No, a politician spewing propaganda in the form of pseudo-concern. I grew up in Miami and had lots of Jewish friends. I love the culture. But both sides have a right to exist.
Who cares about israel, will you stand with the USA rick?
I'm not in love with either the Israelis or the Palestinians. Yes, the Palestinians have been jerks – but had the Israelis, and their American and British backers, been less of jerks during the foundation of Israel we might not be having such problems now as we do.
As for Perry – he's just another "Christian" who supports Israel because he believes in his heart of hearts that the Jews are gods "chosen people" and that to do anything that can be perceived as going against them is to invite gods wrath and that to support them will ensure the end of the world as the Bible says.
In other words – it isn't based on humane reality and respect for all people.
stop ALL welfare checks to israel until a viable peace plan is signed, delivered and kept for the good of the world, once that is accomplished, no more aid.....keep the money here in the U.S. of A., that will be the PATRIOTIC and NATION LOVING things to do. God Bless this great nation, WE, THE PEOPLE.
Another presidential candidate in the pockets of Jews. Don't vote for these corrupt candidates!
maybe he should make isreal part of texas,he could pool some more cheap labour
The Jewish state had better be careful of following Perry–he is a dominionist and believes that the Christians should have dominion over all the earth!
This guy has no original ideas or positions. He is a major league opportunist and will say anything to get elected. Anyone paying attention to the real details of his record as governor, knows there are real problems with the distorted view of success he is trying to convince the voters of.
Pathetic that America and the politicians that want to lead it have to go through this spectacle of kowtowing to a foreign nation that has no real interest in peace because they believe themselves to be the chosen people of an imaginary god. They will never bargain in good faith as long as they cling to their superstitious beliefs and play the perpetual victim.
Governor Perry's attempt to picture himself as the only candidate who understnand the Palestinian issue is absurd. He can appear on as many stages as he wishes but he cannot be sure of the Jewish vote. American Jews have a long history of caring about their fellow citizens.
We are citizens of the United States and to try to define us by our stands on Israel is quite a mistake. There is no box big enough to hold all of the different viewpoints that we have.
Dear Mr. Perry,
Please fire your speech writer. If you want to pass along a message or tell the American Public about how you feel, please use words that fit into your mouth correctly. Your little speech today made you sound both foolish and undereducated. This is just an observation but it is one I think you should listen to.
We won't have to worry about Israel once Iran produces a nuclear weapon.
Perry can't keep his own people out of poverty, so he's going to send more of our money to Israel instead.
Speaking of statehood... aren't you the one that wanted "his" state to secede from the rest of the United States??
Pro Israel, maybe pro Jewish NOT. Holds a Christian prayer rally and invites pastors who talk about Jews being the cause of all evil, mandates a Christian prayer bfast for teachers before the school year, no other religions allowed to be represented.
Gov Perry is lining his pockets with campaign contributions. Perry never saw a cause he couldn't be persuaded to endorse for a bit of change. Oh except health insurance for the poor, education for the poor, firefighter equipment, and anything that might go against his ability to raise money from the rich . Guess Gov Perry doesn't realize a basic tenant of Judeo- Christian values is to help those less fortunate than yourself.
Another War Monger Wanting a chance to be President.
How is it again that Israel is our ally? They've never fought alongside any U.S. troops. In fact, we had to put American troops at risk just to keep them OUT of the war in Iraq. I fail to see what benefit the U.S. gets from this supposed alliance with Israel ... other than the ability to give them millions and millions of dollars every year.