Perry weighs in on Palestinian statehood controversy
September 20th, 2011
11:30 AM ET
11 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. Yoshi99

    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.

    September 20, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  2. Tim

    I sincerely believe that if Obama made a proposition – on anything – that fit republican philosophy and desires perfectly, republicans would still take the opposite view. Does anyone listen to what the other has to say before responding in totally partisan fashion – I think not. Vote your philosophy – not what's happening because what's happening can't be controlled.

    September 20, 2011 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. listenup

    Think about this: If we had not gone into Iraq and Afghanistan, if we had not kept giving Israel billions and taken their side against the Palestinians, think how much money this country would have. We would have trillions saved from not going to war, we would not have to worry about terrorists blowing us up, we would not need to be searched at airports, we would not spend billions on security. We would not need Israel's protection, if that's what it is. Israel and the Palestinians need to work this out between them. We should have no part in it. We just keep the flames going. Maybe because the politicians' friends get so many billions in govt. contracts over there, starting with Cheney, and gang? Isn't that why we're there? They're laughing all the way to the bank while we go broke. Lovely.

    September 20, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. doight

    Shhh..Mr. Perry, the adults are talking.

    September 20, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  5. john

    This man calls himself a patriot? How dare he, or any of these candidates label themselves patriotic. They are unsupportive on all levels to their commander-in-chief, what a sad state of affairs, how disrespectful !!!!

    September 20, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Michael

    Now tell me why would the Palestinians listen to Perry. Does he really think he will have more clout than Obama? Actually does Perry really think he will have more clout than a rusty beer can?

    September 20, 2011 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  7. God Bless America .

    This Palestinian situation and the way Israel and the world is dealing with it is nothing less than a confirmation of " The Law of the Jungle " means the strong eats the week" . Since when this approach started leading to peace and Harmony between peoples ? 63 years of misery for the Palestinians is too long . The whole world is responsible to get them out of this injustice that was created 63 years ago while continuing in a century of computers and information technology .
    The US is the champion of peace , defender of democracy and the Human rights protector, should not allow this injustice to continue any longer . History is being made . God Bless the United States of America.

    "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." –
    Abraham Lincoln

    September 20, 2011 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  8. sks

    Thanks to God in Heaven because he sees through the lies that Rick Perry and what some Republicans are accusing Obama regarding how he treats the nation of Israel. Thank you God because you see the truth in people's hearts, not what they go out and shout publicly.

    September 20, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  9. craig

    Ah, yet another wanna be that presents a simplistic idea because he doesn't have to actually execute it. If only the real world were that easy. In fact, there is no solution possible for this mess until one pre-condition is met. Both sides have to actually want peace, and neither does. They do, however, continue to do the very things calculated to make sure the other side is irritated. Palestinians lob rockets into Israel and refuse to renounce violence and Israel continues to abuse the Palestinians and build settlements on land that is not theirs. Nothing will change until both sides want a solution.

    September 20, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  10. george

    Israel is the the epitome of the Anti-Christ

    September 20, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  11. jay

    Do I have to show my patriotism by offering support to Israel.may god save usa from these Republica. Congressman Ron Paul being an exception.

    September 20, 2011 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  12. thomas

    Why hasn't CNN reported on Septembers protest in Israel ?

    JERUSALEM — As many as 400,000 Israelis demonstrated on Saturday night against the high cost of living and for social justice in one of the largest protests in the nation’s history !

    Perry / Netanyahu
    2013 ?

    Is there a planet that will take Christian , muslin and jewish extremest fundamentalists other then Earth ?

    The world economy is melting down and Perry mixing politics with religion is only adding fuel to a fire !
    Go back to Texas , it's burning , your the governor !

    September 21, 2011 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  13. J.V.hodgson

    Gosh with this kind of rhetoric ( it is certainly NOT DIPLOMATIC SPEAK) from Republican presidential candidates you think the rest of the world sees America as a fair intermediary in negotiations to get a FAIR deal between Israel and Palestinians. If anyone out there does I say get a brain.!!
    We said publicly we support 1967 borders and ignored the Israeli equivalent of a Berlin wall (condemned by the ICCJ)And tacitly or rather do not object to the economic zonal war being pursued by Israel and continuing to this day of settlement expansion in the west bank which defies the 1967 borders recognition. It is economic warfare.
    Now we are going to veto membership of an International body for domestic political reasons, the rest because oops they have access to the ICCJ etc etc please negotiate.. everytime they do 40 years nothing happens because Israel rejects any demand that Palestinians to me rightfully can ask for = part of Jerusalem and West bank agreement.
    Ah I forgot Hamas are terrorists. If they agree to recognise the Israeli state on 1967 borders and renounce violence,
    There is no sensible justifiable reason for vetoing the Palestinian membership of the UN.
    My opinion, veto it and the Arab spring becomes an Islamic mid east revolution and will lead to the demise of the state of Israel or a huge further war in the middle east.
    Take your pick.

    September 21, 2011 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
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