As the Obama administration tries to bring Israel and Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table during a week in which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians will apply for formal statehood at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, Texas Gov. Rick Perry delivered remarks on the Middle East and Israel on Tuesday that rebuked the President’s handling of Israel and foreign policy strategy.
Leading GOP presidential candidate Perry called Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East “naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” and expressed his indignation that “Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership,” and at Obama’s “Middle East policy of appeasement” that has “encouraged” an “ominous act of bad faith.”
Rep. Bob Turner (R.-N.Y.), who won a special election last week in Democrat Anthony Weiner’s former congressional district largely because of the dissatisfaction that Jewish voters felt over Obama’s foreign-policy stances toward Israel, appeared with Perry at the event.
Perry said, “America should not be ambivalent between the terrorists tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel,” and said that Obama’s proposing indirect talks through the United States only encourages the Palestinians to “shun direct talks.”
“If the Palestinians perceive they can get what they want from the UN without any concessions, why should they negotiate with Israel?” Perry asked.
Perry said that Palestinian leaders “must publicly affirm Israel’s right to exist, and to exist as a Jewish state,” and “President Abbas must persuade all factions, including Hamas, to renounce acts of terrorism and release kidnapped Israeli Gilad Shalit.”
Further, Perry said that if Palestinian statehood is not established through direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, the “Arab Street” would be appeased “at the expense of our national security interests,” which is what he accused the Obama administration of doing.
On Iran, Perry said that the “greatest threat to the security of Israel and, by extension, a threat to America, is the Iranian government developing a nuclear arsenal,” and “we must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
“To date, we have fumbled our greatest opportunity for regime change,” Perry said. “As average Iranian citizens were marching on Tehran in the Green Revolution in 2009, America was wasting precious time on a naïve policy of outreach to both the Iranian and Syrian governments.”
Perry said that neither friends nor foes know what America’s “muddle” of a foreign policy is, and he offered some specific ideas, which included standing with “Israel and the Oslo Accords principle of direct negotiations without equivocation,” and closing the PLO office in Washington “if the UN grants the standing of a Palestinian state.”
In a question-and-answer session after the speech with reporters, Perry said he believed in a two-state solution approach through direct negotiations, and said that, like any relationship, the relationship between America and Israel cannot be smooth all the time, but that the “American people are for Israel” even if the Obama administration may be more lukewarm.
Perry also said that “help is on the way” for Israel, and that a driving factor of Middle East instability during Obama’s tenure has been his “apologizing for American exceptionalism.”
“I also as a Christian have a clear directive to support Israel,” Perry said.