The Cable

Perry: Obama’s Mideast policy 'naive, arrogant, misguided, and dangerous'

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry hosted a pro-Israel rally in New York on Tuesday morning during which he repeatedly accused President Barack Obama of "appeasement" of the Palestinians and of bungling three years of Middle East diplomacy.

"I hope you will tell the people of Israel that help is on the way," Perry told an assembled audience of Jewish organization leaders and journalists at the W Hotel on Union Square.

He called for the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington and the cutting off of U.S. aid to the Palestinian leadership as punishment for their drive to seek member-state status at the United Nations.

The Obama administration had treated Palestinian and Israel concerns with equal regard, which has led to the diplomatic crisis brewing in Turtle Bay, according to Perry.

"Simply put, we would not be here today at this precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn't naive, arrogant, misguided, and dangerous," Perry said. "The Obama policy of moral equivalency, which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a very dangerous insult."

Perry criticized the Palestinians several times for "violating the spirit" of the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, by seeking recognition of statehood at the United Nations. He also said the Israelis should be allowed to keep building settlements.

Perry's specific criticisms of Obama's approach to Israel were threefold: He said that, by beginning with indirect talks between the parties, Obama had encouraged the Palestinians to shun direct negotiations. He said Obama's May 19 announcement that negotiations should be based on the 1967 borders with agreed-upon land swaps, which was made the day before a U.S.-Israel summit, was an insult to visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Perry also said that calling on Israel to halt settlement activity as a prerequisite to negotiations left Israel with no room to negotiate.

"We see the American administration having a willingness to isolate a close ally and to do so in a manner that is both insulting and naïve," said Perry.

Perry corrected a mistake he made on Sept. 15, when he called on the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel's right to exist. Today, he called on the Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

He then went on to say that Obama failed to support the Iranian democracy movement and wrongly pursued engagement with the governments of Iran and Syria.

"Who knows what the leadership of Iran would look like today if America had done everything within our power to provide both the diplomatic and moral support to encourage the growing movement of dissidents that sought freedom," he said. "Our actions in recent years have destabilized the region."

Also speaking at the event were Rep. Bob Turner (R-NY), who just won a special election to replace Anthony Weiner in Congress, and Danny Danon, the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset and the chairman of World Likud.

"[The Palestinians] cannot come to the U.N. without paying the price...and the price will be that the U.S. will stop immediately the funding for the PA if there will be a vote in the U.N. bodies next week," Danon said. "When we see a lack of leadership coming from the White House, that will make [the Palestinians] more determined to attack Israel the way they do."

The vast majority of the mostly Orthodox Jewish leaders at the event supported Perry's tough stance, and some even advocated stronger measures to punish the Palestinians for their U.N. gambit. But some in the audience criticized Danon, who does not support a two-state solution, for censuring the Obama administration while the president and his team met with world leaders to defend Israel's position only blocks away.

"Whether as openly as Danon did this morning, or more surreptitiously as Netanyahu and others practice it, right-wing politicians from Israel and the U.S. keep a very blurred line of separation between their respective national interests, constituencies, and fundraising," one Jewish organization leader at the event told The Cable.


The Cable

Administration defends its unannounced Taiwan arms decision

The Obama administration is taking a lot of criticism for its as yet unannounced decision to sell Taiwan a new arms package that does not include new F-16 fighter planes, and a senior administration official used some verbal gymnastics to offer a defense of the decision without actually confirming it.

"This is with regard to Taiwan and the question of a U.S. decision one way or the other, which as you know, has not yet been formally notified to Congress with regard to the sale of F-16s," a senior administration official told reporters at the Waldolf Astoria hotel in New York on Monday evening. "Our view is that something has gotten lost in translation in the last couple of days on this issue."

The official couldn't acknowledge that reports of the sale were true, because Congress has to be notified before officials talk about foreign military sales to the press. So the official defended the decision by temporarily "assuming" the news reports were accurate.

"I will base my comments on those assuming that those leaks are true. But of course, I can't confirm them until after formal congressional notification this week," the official said.

"Assuming the reports leaked about the proposal to refurbish F-16s are true and that obviously can't be confirmed even on background until a formal congressional notification later this week -- weapons sales to Taiwan since 2009 will be greater than in the previous four years, and they will be double the sales that occurred between 2004 and 2008."

The official then defended the offer to Taiwan of upgrades for its aging fleet of F-16 A/B fighters and the rejection of Taiwan's request for 66 new F-16 C/D fighters, again without confirming that's the administration's decision.

"Assuming the decision is to upgrade F-16 A/B, they will provide essentially the same quality as new F-16 C/D aircraft at a far cheaper price. And Taiwan would stand to get 145 A/Bs versus only 66 C/Ds. And we're obviously prepared to consider further sales in the future," the official said.

The official then argued that the Obama administration has been active on strengthening relations with Taiwan.

"In addition, the administration has taken strong steps to deepen relations with Taiwan in concrete ways beyond this dossier, including Visa Waiver Program, education initiatives, trade and energy initiatives, and helping Taiwan to have more access to international fora like the World Health Organization."

The actual announcement of the Taiwan arms sales decision and its actual defense are expected later this week.

UPDATE:  Earlier today Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)  filed his bill to require the administration to sell at least 66 new F-16 C/D multirole fighter jets to Taiwan as an amendment to the Generalized System of Preferences bill that is currently on the Senate floor, which is a vehicle for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).