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.
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