GOP Candidates Overreach On Israel

NEW YORK (AP) — The Palestinian bid to win U.N. recognition is focusing attention on the Obama administration’s Mideast policy, which Republican presidential candidates say is all wrong.

Presenting themselves as stronger advocates for Israel, leading GOP hopefuls are turning the Middle East peace process into a foreign policy campaign issue in a political season so far dominated by unemployment, taxes and the stagnant U.S. economy.

Yet as the administration fights fiercely on behalf of Israel this week, pressing the Palestinians to abandon their quest for statehood, some of the Republican claims have strayed well beyond reality.

The diplomatic tussling ahead of a possible United Nations vote comes after the recent GOP win in a special New York congressional election, which suggested some problems ahead for Obama with traditionally Democratic-leaning Jewish voters.

A look at some of the statements by the candidates and how they compare with the facts:


MITT ROMNEY: “President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus.”

THE FACTS: This statement, delivered with regularity since Obama’s May speech outlining his vision of a two-state solution, comes at an odd moment.

The Obama administration is working feverishly against the Palestinians’ U.N. statehood bid, lobbying world governments to vote down the plan. It is cajoling Turkey to repair ties with the Jewish state. It recently helped de-escalate tensions after Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, winning praise from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. And it has made sure that Egypt’s new authorities honor all existing peace agreements with Israel.

This week’s very public American campaigning on behalf of Israel has strengthened relations between the countries. And with Israel feeling increasingly isolated among its neighbors, Obama officials have taken on the mantle of doing its diplomatic bidding. There may be some Israeli officials who feel Obama has promised too much to the Palestinians or pushed too quickly, but few if any who feel right now that he has abandoned the Jewish state.


RICK PERRY: “Errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take backward steps away from peace. It was a mistake to call for an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks.”

THE FACTS: This is a one-sided and parochial assessment of the impasse. U.S. officials and mediators from other countries have blamed both sides for failing to advance the peace process. Europeans and others aren’t blaming the U.S. for the difficulty.

The U.S. government long has considered Israeli housing construction in lands it conquered in 1967 — lands the Palestinians want to include in their future state — as illegitimate. Yet despite being disappointed by resumed Israeli settlement expansion, the Obama administration vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning the Jewish state. And it has continuously pressed for direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, despite not securing any Israeli commitment to reverse policy.


MICHELLE BACHMANN: “Obama called upon Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders.”

THE FACTS: Obama’s vision for a two-state solution foresees the Israelis and Palestinians agreeing on a new border, so they would draw the map themselves.

Bachmann and other critics of the president have ignored his reference to “mutually agreed swaps” of land, meaning that Israel’s pre-1967 borders would serve only as a starting point and that the two sides would have to define the boundary themselves. Obama himself has said the 1967 line is indefensible and would constitute an unrealistic aspiration for Palestinians.

Obama’s vision, long a privately articulated part of American foreign policy, has been endorsed by the other major Middle East peace mediators — the European Union, United Nations and Russia. More importantly, it’s backed by the majority of Palestinian and Israeli leaders.


PERRY: “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.”

THE FACTS: The administration has never said nor suggested that settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, or any other Israeli policy, is equally as heinous as Hamas rockets or other attacks aimed at Israeli citizens.

However, Obama officials have tried to give public weight to the grievances of each side, without offering either as a moral justification for harmful deeds.

For Israelis, the administration says it understands the difficulty of living without security and in a hostile neighborhood. And it cites the ordeal of Palestinians living under occupation, with difficult economic prospects and without control over their own lives.

The effort at empathy does not extend to terrorists. Obama has maintained the unconditional blacklisting of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon as terrorist organizations and backed Israel’s right to target extremists bent on threatening its security.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Sue J

    Obama turned his back on Israel months ago.

    • Sam

      Was that when he suggested that the U.N. deny Palestine’s statehood, or when he undid an attempt to condemn Israel for its continued housing projects? Or maybe when he continued to treat Hamas as a terrorist organization? Or possibly when he continued to work to find a viable solution for long-term peace?

      Did you read the article? Have you read any of the facts about this outside of the article? Or are you just reading talking points off of a political website?

      • Levi

        The problem is that the article lists all these facts but gives no reference. It is up to the writers to present their references not for Sue J to prove their truth. In today’ NY Times today it is pointed out that the President pushed for Palistinian admittance to the UN only last year. Now, realizing he could lose the Jewish vote (based on the New York special congressional vote) is backing off that stance. Everything, yes everything the Republican canidates have said jives with the news events from the past 3 years. Is the writer of this article ant-semetic or just misinformed?

      • Tom

        @ Sam

        That is what happens when people like Sue J only get their info from FOX!

        But the other thing is this their is big difference between backing Israel for political reasons and for religious reasons. IF we are defending Israel for Political reasons that is great.

        And we all know why people like Palin, Bachmann, Perry, and the social conservatives want Israel protected. And we shouldn’t be doing it for that reason.

  • G Dog

    So Israel spies on the US, develops nuclear weapons, and refuses to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians and we’re supposed to give them a high five?

    Pull all aid to Israel and see if they don’t change their tune.

    • TJ

      They are a sovereign nation and entitled to spy on the US, develop nuclear weapons, and refuse to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians. The US participates in all these activites as well. What”s the problem?

  • Bullwinkle

    Report on what Ron Paul says, because Obama,Perry<Hillary,Romney are all the same : Political minions who would sell their souls for power

  • Me

    Foreign policy is something the Obama administration has gotten right.

  • Jake

    This article could not have been written more Pro-Obama if Obama had written it. It’s an editorial piece, not reporting.

  • richard

    As I’ve been saying over time now. The repubs will LIE about anything and everything the President says or does. Why would we trust any of them to run this country?

    • Reality sucks

      Because the democrats do the same thing. It is up to us to be the truth finders. For instance, I’m focused on the economic issues and nothing from either party is fact. Obama’s plan won’t work. Republican’s plan kinda works. But, so far, I’m with Clinton who says leave it all alone! Time isn’t right to do anything.

  • Truth Seeker

    When people have to lie to have a point, Maybe they never had a point to begin with. If people lie now, we can assume that the next thing they utter will be the truth, right? Though shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor…
    where have all the Family Values gone?

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