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. Wowsors

    Since my last comment is going to get censored, let me say.. Perry is a a person of the second order in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, above the level of idiocy, having a mental age of seven or eight years and an intelligence quotient of 25 to 50.

    September 20, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. alex sabia

    obama killed every terrorist in the middle east now he needs to kill the biggest 1 israel !!!

    September 20, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. john houston

    the palistinians are crowded into concentration like encampments and the jews are no better than the naziis in their treatment of them.there will never be peace as long as we (the us) continue to support ther jewish states own form of terrorizm.Perry is misinformed of many things,hes certainly no expert on middel east relations.he should stay in texas and let the fine folks of texas prosper under his leadership

    September 20, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  4. jimolas

    Move Israel to Texas. Right on the border

    September 20, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. TamarS

    Perry knows nothing about Israel but will do anything to oppose President Obama and get attention for himself. His words regularly ring hollow.

    September 20, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. What Did He Say??

    WHAT ?? the pain of israelis is more important than the pain of someone else?? WOOOOw. a possible president who isn't politically correct. The future Lieberman of USA, and soon we will also lose all our Allies because of the right wing israeli's..

    September 20, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  7. Halcyon

    Cheap and transparent political ploy for Jewish votes. Nice try, Perry.

    Does anyone even know how many times Perry has even been to Israel?

    September 20, 2011 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. V in Chicago

    Can Perry see Israel from his house? Does he even know anything about the area and what has gone on over there for years? Amazing that these so-called presidential candidates get on and spew their hate for Obama and their "fixes" when they don't have a clue as to what they are talking about. Even more absurd that CNN would listen and pass their ignorance on to the rest of us. Maybe that is why American is dumbing down so much.

    September 20, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. boyamidumb

    His ignorance of the situation is astounding. As is his failure to acknowledge that the Israelis have been as brutal and as much terrorists as the Palestinians. His rhetoric is more of the same that has kept the middles east a mess.

    President of the United States???? NOT.

    September 20, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. Republican never again

    This Is just more proof that Republicans only speak loud about things they are clueless about. Isreal building in disputed territory during the peace talks is why Palestinians walked away. Insults have no place in peace talks. Perry is truly dumber than Bush.

    September 20, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  11. Joan

    The difference in demeanor between Perry and the President speaking this morning spoke volumes. The President was articulate, sensible, and calm while Perry was critical, brash and controversial. If Perry gets in next November be prepared for lots of confrontations with other world leaders and lots of wars. There is a big difference between being a politician and a statesman. Perry is a politician and President Obama is a statesman.

    September 20, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. Sylvestor Johnson

    No one cares what Perry has to say. Every politican says one thing and does another. It's been the truth for the past several elections.

    Perry is pandering and those that buy it and support him are idiots.

    September 20, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. citizenUSA

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

    September 20, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. boyamidumb

    He squint whenever he lies!

    When does he lie? Whenever he opens his mouth.

    It takes a REAL idiot to make Palin look like less of an idiot. AMAZING.

    September 20, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. once upon a horse

    Rick Perry stood by looking like a lost soul (as did the others on the stage) at the Tea Party debate when the crowd cheered for an uninsured man to die. If this is the type of compassion he and the far right have, how in the world is supposed to care about Isreal? Haven't the Jews been through enough without having to get pandered by Rick "know nothing" Perry?

    September 20, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Enough is Enough

    Perry stop kissing Israel's ass for votes. I suppose you would like to send them even more money for illegal settlements.

    September 20, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. boyamidumb

    He squint whenever he lies!

    When does he lie? Whenever he opens his mouth.

    It takes a REAL idiot to make Palin look like less of an idiot.

    September 20, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  18. sedgwickgrad


    No, Ricky. "Appeasement" is good Americans allowing you a national platform to spew your ignorance.

    September 20, 2011 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  19. Kris

    The only interest Perry and other evangelicals have in Israel is converting them into Evangelical Christians and then claiming the land for themselves....and btw we will never leave the middle East if Perry is in charge.

    September 20, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. Erky

    The article suggests this issue is about the Jewish vote, and that 80% of the Jews voted for Obama. Let's see 80% of 2% is 1.6% of the US population. Clearly the Jewish vote is negligible, however since the United States has moved so far away from democratic representation in practice, and is run by corporations and lobbies – the politicians aren't vying for the Jewish vote. They are simply carrying out the wishes of the pro-Israel lobby ( AIPAC, ADL, Christians united for Israel etc) which is a completely different matter.

    September 20, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. Jeetu

    Perry is criticizing his own President without knowing the details of the discusisons Obama had sinc ehe took office. His policy towards Israel and Palenstine has not changed and has been the same as those of other Presidents though not made public. What Obama did is to make this public and transparent.

    Perry and his republican friends do not seem to have any policy recommendations of their own. They will say and do anything to get votes from various people. To ge the Jewish votes, Perry is saying one thing (and he talks from both sides of his mouth saying that he supports a two-state solution but not Obama's approach which is a two-state solution) yet he says that he is behions Israel 100%. So the question is: does he support a Palenstinian state? Form his comments he does not. However, when he is speaking in front of the Arab audiance, he would say he supports them 100%. That is called hypoctract and Perry is just that.

    September 20, 2011 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Paul

    Perry don't know much about no international relations. He just knows them thar Jews vote. Maybe he should visit ifamericansknew dot org.

    September 20, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Harry Baxter

    The GOP, as is their wont, is demagouging the whole Israel issue. Anyone who is a real Friend of the Israelis would have suggested a long time ago that a settlement could have been reached concerning the West bank settlements, but the Israelis continue to build, and further inflame the Palestinians. Don't get me wrong; we pick the right side by supporting Israel, but Israel takes advantage of us far too much, and we're afraid to push back and upset the Jewish voting bloc. Maybe we need a different approach. Our present policy regarding Israel obviously needs some work.

    September 20, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Look, these Teapublicans are doing what they accuse President Obama of doing, playing politics! Israel is a "big boy" they are strong and can take care of themselves! Some joker from Texas who doesn't know much history only knows how to mimic the talking heads. American Jews are smart people, they know a wolf in sheep's clothing when they see 'him'!

    The Palestinians deserve a homeland, I love Israel and its people, but that does not mean that I refuse their neighbors justice. We can live in peace, IF we choose!

    OBAMA 2012....... Yes we did, and yeah..... we will again!

    September 20, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    This country become so rediclous. So He wants Jewish and radical Christans votes. Lets starat bashing everybody to get their vote. Why not immigrate all Palestenian people to Texas.

    September 20, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
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