NEW YORK (JTA) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry blamed the Obama administration for Israel’s crises in the Middle East and said he recognized all of Jerusalem as Israeli.
Perry, the Texas governor who is leading in the GOP race to challenge President Obama next year, appeared Tuesday at a news conference in New York timed for the U.N. General Assembly opening along with a number of pro-settler Jewish leaders and Danny Danon, a settler leader and Knesset member who backs annexing parts of the West Bank.
“We are indignant that certain Middle Eastern leaders have discarded the principle of direct negotiations between the sovereign nation of Israel and the Palestinian leadership,” Perry said. “And we are equally indignant that the Obama administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.”
Mainstream Jewish leaders have credited the Obama administration with mounting a strong offensive against the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to obtain statehood recognition this week at the United Nations.
J Street, the liberal pro-Israel group, said it was Perry, not Obama, whose policies would endanger Israel.
“From sharing the podium with an extreme right-wing Knesset member who calls for the outright annexation of the West Bank, to urging an end to Palestinian aid and paying lip-service to the two-state solution while undercutting moves to achieve it, Perry is cynically attempting to turn Israel into a partisan football for his own very narrow gain,” it said in a stattement.
Separately, Perry’s chief GOP rival, Mitt Romney, echoed his argument.
“What we are watching unfold at the United Nations is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster,” USA Today quoted Romney as saying. “It is the culmination of President Obama’s repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position.”
Perry also expressed support for Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.
“I am for Jerusalem being united under Israeli rule,” he said.
Over the weekend, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, said that America should “stand by” its friend Israel. Boehner, speaking in Cincinnati at the Jewish National Fund’s national conference, did not mention President Obama, but his remarks echoed Republican and conservative criticism of the president for making his differences with Israel over peace strategies a matter of public record. His speech was titled “Words matter.”
“Where I’m from, where we’re from, we stand by our friends, especially the ones who have always stood by us,” he said. “Supporting Israel and her people has been the policy of this nation since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office. Our commitment to Israel should be no less strong today. If anything it should be stronger than it’s ever been.”
Boehner and other GOP congressional leaders, including House majority leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), are addressing a Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Washington this week.