Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry castigated President Obama for his handling of Israeli-Palestinian relations on Tuesday, accusing Obama of a “policy of appeasement” toward the Palestinians that he said was undermining U.S. security interests in the Middle East.
The Texas governor charged that the Obama administration — which has been trying to head off a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood this week and relaunch peace talks — was encouraging the Palestinians to shun direct negotiations with the Israelis.
Perry, a leading contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, said the United States should reconsider its aid to the Palestinians and close the Palestinian Authority’s offices in Washington if Mahmoud Abbas, president of the authority, succeeds in his quest for formal recognition of statehood at the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly this week.
“We would not be here today at the very precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” Perry said in a speech in New York.
He blasted Obama for saying last spring that the 1967 borders should be the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Perry said Obama’s statement isolated Israel “in a manner that is both insulting and naive.”
Obama’s statement was denounced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time. But Netanyahu had embraced the 1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations before that, and he said last month that he would do so again if the Palestinians dropped their statehood bid.
Perry’s top GOP rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, also assailed Obama’s Middle East policies in a statement issued Tuesday morning.
“What we are watching unfold at the United Nations is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster,” Romney said. “It is the culmination of President Obama’s repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position.”