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. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Paul

    "Pro-Israel Rant"? Could CNN be more obviously anti-Israel? So, I guess the ultra-liberal folks at CNN think that any speech that supports Israel, or criticizes Obama for being anti-Israel, is a "rant". You so-called objective journalists should be ashamed of yourselves, with your wannabe subliminal messages. Why not have the guts to come out and say how you really feel? Something like "We hate the jewish state of Israel, and we wish it didn't exist". At least that way you could be more respectable by virtue of candor, although you'd probably have to give up your phoney-boloney jobs in the process. Let's see if you've got the guts to even post this. I'll be keeping an eye on you.

    Wow, Paul. Thats a stretch to criticize CNN's coverage of Perry's speech that blatantly ignores the history of the region, as well as the obvious political overtones of where he delivered it. It was a rant, rather like the one you subsequestly posted here, along with the " bring it on"-style taunt to the moderators here: " I'll be keeping an eye on you". Are you really that childish?

    September 20, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    When you say things like 'there is no middle ground' in foreign policy – you are creating a policy of absolutism that will eventually come back to bite us. Did this guy sleep through the last 10 years or something? Does, "You are either with us, or against us..." ring a bell?

    He's sending a coded message to his evangelical supporters – it reads: 'We will support Israel no matter what happens or what they do – because it is the promised land where Jesus walked, and the bible tells us it's a special place'.

    September 20, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Sacramento, CA

    Can someone help me understand why Israel is so important to the US? What does the US gain from unfettered support of Israel? It's not money, oil, gas, technology or other natural resources and its clear that they are willing to flip the "bird" to Obama whenever the US questions their actions.

    September 20, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Victoria

    For those of you who think Obama has bad relations with Isreal, stop watching right wing media and listen to what their Prime minister has to say. Obama has shown support and friendship and has come to their aide when needed.

    September 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Mer

    Politics, Perry kowtowing to the Jewish vote....must figure he needs NY, Florida and Ohio to win.

    September 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Voice of Reason

    Anyone have any more doubts that this is another loud-mouthed Texan that would gladly apply a black-and-white philosophy to our foriegn policy?

    But I'm sure it was just coincidence that GWB said almost the exact same thing, and that his policies embroiled us in a decade of unsupportable boondoggle wars in Asia.

    September 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. BeverlyNC

    Has Rick Perry ever met a Jewish person? Can he even find Israel on a map??

    Give me a break – Perry is a moron who knows nothing about anything outslde the borders of Texas.
    President Obama is a true leader who is well educated in foreign policy, has reinstated respect for America among the world nations, and is an ally of Israel as America has always been.

    September 20, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. isreaeloveswar1

    I say move all the rest of the jews to florida and give palestine their land back...we have a very distorted view on that region. a palestinian will kill a jew and makes headlines in the u.s. but when the jews kill hundreds of palestinians steal their land and deny them basic human rights that is perfectly normal

    September 20, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. blue

    Who does Perry think that he is? Everytime he opens his mouth the dumb comes out. He is only showing how uneducated and stupid he is. This guy as president scares the devil out of me.

    September 20, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Tom

    I've heard this stated over and over again.,Israel is our greatest ally. Can someone explain how this is. From where I sit israel is a thorn in the side of the USA. Israel is a leech to the United States. I'm sorry people but I just don't see it. Are we allowed US soldiers, to refuel our warships do we have an airstrip in israel NO, Do IDF troops fight alongside US troops in battle NO. Does israel violate international laws YES, Do we give israel billions of dollars yearly YES,. US citizens go hungry every night those billions are needed here. israel has nuclear weapons but the IAEA is not allowed inspections but Iran has to submit, we have to submit every country in the world who has nuclear power has to submit, So please tell me why is the US Government " Face down Ass up" to israel

    September 20, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Allegra

    Perry: Trying to court us Jews, huh? I'm sure some of the misguided will fall (remember, folks: these are people willing to sell their soul and yours-to say nothing of those who support Israel simply bc in their twisted form of Christianity they want all the Jews to settle in the "promised land" so that they convert to Christianity and usher in Jesus's arrival. Loony, loony!) As a proudly liberal Jew and supporter of the State of Israel (and of President Obama) I say to you: You will not get my vote! Nor that of the majority of American Jews either. Too bad there's 20% of us who don't "get" these loons.

    September 20, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Cedar Rapids

    "but noted that any agreement would have Jerusalem whole and under complete Israeli control"

    Not your decision to make Perry.

    "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"

    Again, nothing to do with you either Mitt. What the Palestinians do at the UN is up to the Palestinians and not the US.

    September 20, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. The Veteran

    Perry's views are NOT CHRISTIAN. There ain't nothing Christian in what he just said. Any Christian that thinks it is alright to treat people different because of race or religion or even disagreements is insane! That is not the Gospel. Not even close.

    September 20, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. dreucalypt

    The hopes to be able to broker a peace between Israel and Palestine. But if people like Perry become President, that will be impossible.

    September 20, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Joe

    It is shameful, the way in which an American is kowtowing to Israelis who give us nothing but grief and drain money we cannot afford from our budget. Cut them adrift.

    September 20, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Jon

    "wrong for this administration to suggest the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations" - Sorry, hasn't that been the case since the Oslo Accords in the 1990's ANYWAY? GRAAHHHHH SO MUCH HATE.

    September 20, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. BL

    The one and only reason the GOP radicals support Israel is that her ultimate destruction is essential to their End Times fantasy.

    September 20, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. nathan

    Who wrote that speech for you Rick? Sorry, our people dont back white trash.

    September 20, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Popso

    Perry is a breath of fresh air to this stale 2012 GOP race. We need a man of integrity like this to take the office of POTUS. GO PERRY, GO!!!

    September 20, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. mike

    Perry and the rest of our politicians from both parties pandering to the Jewish vote. They complain about taking God out of the Pledge, but yet they pledge more allegiance to the flag of Israel.

    September 20, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Cedar Rapids

    "criticizing" is correct. Notice there wasn't any name calling from the Republican. Can't say the same for people like Obama that call Americans "Teabaggers" or Pelosi calling Americans 'Nazis" or other disgraceful name calling that come from the left."
    Yeah its not as if Perry has ever called Obama a socialist at all
    Or Bachmann call him 'dictator'
    Or Walsh call the president an idiot

    ......oh wait.

    September 20, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Cedar Rapids

    "Perry is a breath of fresh air to this stale 2012 GOP race. We need a man of integrity like this to take the office of POTUS."
    Yeah, this is the guy who said he has no problem with ignoring a supreme court ruling.

    September 20, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. John

    How many days has Rick Perry been on the campaign trail and not showed up for his current job?

    September 20, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. J

    Perry has the experience. He can see Mexico from his house.

    September 20, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. billy davis

    The United States have been firmly behind Israel for over 50 years and nothing has changed in the region from 1000's of years before we were a country. Is it Israeli's inability to compromise or the US support of said position? Now if we are truly for democracy we would expect that both sides have control of their respective countries. These clowns are fighting over the Holy Land while killing each other. Sorry but they both are stupid. Split the difference and move on. Diplomacy works a whole lot better than spewing hatred of one side and praising the other Rick Perry. You can't even figure out what's best for the Texas border now you're an expert on Israel?

    September 20, 2011 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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