|On Israel, Romney and Perry Sound Presidential|
By Ashton Ellis
Monday, September 26 2011
President Barack Obama’s inept handling of Israel and the Palestinians has now prompted a United Nations debacle over Palestinian statehood. With the UN Security Council now considering whether to subject the request to a vote before the entire General Assembly, two presidential candidates are reminding voters why Obama can’t be trusted with foreign policy.
When news broke that the Palestinian Authority would request UN recognition, the condemnations came quickly.
Mitt Romney pulled no punches last week when he said, “What we are watching unfold at the United Nations is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster.” “It is the culmination of President Obama’s repeated efforts over the years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position. That policy must stop now.”
For those countries pledging to support Palestine’s statehood bid, Romney said the U.S. should “reevaluate” its relationship with them. So far, that list includes Russia, China, Brazil and India. All are currently serving on the UN Security Council, tasked with deciding whether to recommend Palestine’s request to the full General Assembly.
Romney also called for the U.S. to cut funding for any UN agency that recognizes Palestine as a state. (In the byzantine world of UN protocol, even recognizing Palestine as a non-voting member state could empower UN agencies to treat Palestine as a de facto state, allowing it to influence committees and declarations into an anti-Israel posture.)
For his part, Rick Perry took the opportunity to remind Obama of the 60-year relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Citing Obama’s support for shrinking Israel’s borders to pre-1967 levels, halting housing construction in East Jerusalem and usurping direct negotiations between the Jewish state and Palestinian leaders, Perry zeroed in on a simple truth: Israel is our friend.
Because of this, “[t]here is no middle ground between our allies and those who seek their destruction.” Rejecting Obama’s pro-Palestinian approach, Perry said that “America cannot be ambivalent between the terrorist tactics of Hamas and the security tactics of the legitimate and free state of Israel.”
Romney and Perry are right. President Obama’s strategy for dealing with Israeli-Palestinian relations – publicly chastising Israel’s democratic leadership while only privately admonishing Palestine’s terrorist-led governments – emboldened the Palestinian leadership.
The political leadership of the Palestinian people cannot be equated to a government-in-waiting because their use of power is directed at the destruction of their neighbor Israel. There is not now nor has there ever been moral equivalency; there is no reason to believe there ever will be.
Recall that the charter of Hamas – one half of the coalition government that includes the Palestinian Authority (PA), the successor to Yassir Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization – explicitly calls for the elimination of the Jewish state. While currently more corrupt than thuggish, the PA continues to threaten the stability of Israel with political maneuvers such as its UN gambit that give other governments hostile to Israel an opportunity to humiliate America and her ally.
Because of this governmental swamp, Will Marshall of the Progressive Policy Institute observes that any attempt to recognize Palestinian sovereignty would violate “two prerequisites for international recognition as an independent state: political unity and an unambiguous commitment to peaceful coexistence with Israel.”
Obama will continue to downplay the importance of such distinctions at his peril.
Already Obama’s swipes at Israel have yielded a surprise special election victory for Republicans in a former Democratic congressional stronghold. Members of the heavily Jewish New York district agreed with the substance of Romney and Perry’s criticisms mentioned above. They also took issue with several personal slights directed at Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Obama Administration is now furiously trying to beat back a UN vote on Palestinian statehood. But to do that he’ll need to blow precious capital placating countries sensing leverage over the world’s lone superpower. If that doesn’t work, then America will exercise its Security Council veto, kill the Palestinian bid for statehood and be tarred as an anti-underdog bully.
Of course, these moves would be totally unnecessary had the man referred to by some as the Leader of the Free World been fair in his treatment of a friendly and free country. With this latest debacle etched on Obama’s resume, it’s clear that either Romney or Perry is better suited to sit in the Oval Office than the current occupant.
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