GOP candidates Perry and Romney assail Obama on Israel

GOP candidates Perry and Romney assail Obama on Israel

NEW YORK (AP) — Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry and Mitt Romney waded into a tense foreign policy dispute Tuesday by criticizing the Palestinian Authority’s effort to seek a formal recognition of statehood by the U.N. General Assembly.

The Republican rivals also used the jockeying at the U.N. to assail President Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel.

Perry, the Texas governor and Republican front-runner, is pledging in a speech in New York strong support for Israel and criticizing Obama for demanding concessions from the Jewish state that Perry says emboldened the Palestinians to seek recognition by the U.N.

“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 in excerpts provided by one of his aides to The Associated Press. “And we are equally indignant that the Obama administration’s Middle East policy of appeasement has encouraged such an ominous act of bad faith.”

In a written statement before Perry spoke, Romney called the diplomatic maneuvering at the United Nations this week an “unmitigated diplomatic disaster.” The former Massachusetts governor also accused Obama’s administration of “repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position.”

“That policy must stop now,” Romney said.

The two Republicans who lead in early polls for the Republican nomination, as well as their lesser-known opponents, are intent on showing they stand strongly behind Israel, an effort to appeal to Jewish voters and donors who play a pivotal role in presidential elections. So they’re trying to grab a share of the spotlight as the Palestinians push for statehood this week at the U.N.

Perry and Romney weighed in as Obama was in New York for meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly. He planned to meet later in the week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The U.S. has promised a veto in the Security Council, but the Palestinians can press for a more limited recognition of statehood before the full — and much more supportive — General Assembly. The Obama administration has pushed hard for countries around the world to block the Palestinian bid, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday there was still time to avert a divisive showdown.

Obama has been criticized by Republicans and many pro-Israel activists for seeming to push the Jewish state harder than the Palestinians to make compromises to achieve peace. Among other things, Obama has called on Israel to cease building housing settlements in the West Bank and to negotiate the scope of the Palestinian state using 1967 borders as a starting point — a diplomatic position the U.S. has long maintained but one that has never before been explicitly embraced by a U.S. president.

Complaints about Obama’s Israel policy helped a Republican, Bob Turner, win a special election in a heavily Jewish and Democratic New York congressional district last week.

“It’s vitally important for America to preserve alliances with leaders who seek to preserve peace and stability in the region,” Perry said in the speech. “But today, neither adversaries nor allies know where America stands. Our muddle of a foreign policy has created great uncertainty in the midst of the Arab Spring.”

Romney called on Obama to unequivocally reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and promise to cut foreign assistance to the Palestinians if they succeed in getting U.N. recognition. He also called for the United States to re-evaluate its funding of U.N. programs and its relationship with any nation voting in favor of recognition.

The Palestinian Bid for Statehood: Dire Implications for the U.S.

The Palestinian Bid for Statehood: Dire Implications for the
U.S.

By C.
Hart

Since the 1970s, America has been the main peace
broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  For the most part, a succession of U.S.
administrations decided to take a step-by-step approach — acting as the third
party at the peace table, using a gentle but firm hand to bring the main parties
together.  Long ago, the U.S. adopted the “land for peace” formula, which became
a “two-state solution” mantra in recent years.

Through the struggles and pitfalls of America’s
obsession to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there have been U.S.
foreign policymakers that have set the timetables.  The White House, working
closely with the State Department, has taken strident measures to determine the
various avenues towards peace.  Special envoys have been established to oversee
American goals.  They have attempted to control the daily agenda at summits, to
extract concessions from the Israelis and the Palestinians, while pushing and
pressuring interlocutors at the peace table.  All that may be changing
now.

This week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is
expected to ask the U.N. world body to recognize a Palestinian state on land
that has not been successfully negotiated with the Israelis.  It’s a brazen act
of aggression by the Palestinians to change the endgame.  Abbas believes that
U.N. recognition of “Palestine” as the 194th member-state will
prevent the U.S. from calling the shots behind closed doors.  Israel will no
longer be able to claim specific parts of the land as “disputed.”  Abbas thinks
that once a Palestinian state is officially recognized by the world, he can then
look to the International Court to begin legal proceedings against the thousands
of Israelis living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria).
Abbas and his entourage of Palestinian leaders may be attempting to take the
U.S. out of the equation altogether.

Since the early 1970s, American presidents have been
seen shaking hands with Arab and Israeli leaders at the White House, Camp David,
and other locations — sometimes signing treaties, sometimes not, but always
with an eye towards being the nation that brokered the final peace deal in the
region.

The Palestinians became a main focus in the conflict
in 1991 during the Madrid Conference.  Then, the U.S. was involved in the
implementation of the Oslo Accords, the Hebron Agreement, the Wye River
Memorandum, the Camp David 2000 Summit, Clinton’s Parameters and Taba talks, the
Road Map for Peace, the Annapolis Conference, and finally, direct talks between
Israel and the Palestinians in 2010.

During the past two years, the American administration
has realized that U.S. influence in the Middle East has been waning.  Partly as
a result of this assessment, U.S. President Barack Obama along with Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been adamant in insisting that the Palestinians
stop the U.N. bid for statehood.  But, even with the White House threatening
sanctions and Congress threatening a withholding of financial aid, Mahmoud Abbas
has not been deterred from his course.

Recently, Abbas met with American special envoys to
the Middle East, David Hale and Dennis Ross.  During the meeting, both men
expressed strong objections to the Palestinian approach.  Abbas hardly
listened.  In fact, he has spent the past two years trying to attract European
and Arab leaders to his cause, intent on weakening U.S. diplomatic efforts in
the region.  Furthermore, he has threatened the Obama administration, stating
that if America vetoes a U.N. resolution that favors Palestinian statehood, this
will signal that the U.S. is not in favor of a two-state solution.  This is
entrapment at its best.

The Palestinian leadership can also be expected to
rally Arab leaders in the Middle East to take action against U.S. interests in
the region after the U.N. meetings are concluded this week.

The approach of Abbas is to do an end run so
that the U.S. no longer controls the parameters of the process of peace.
Instead, as a proposed U.N. member, the new fledgling Palestinian state would
attempt to claim that Israel is militarily occupying its territory.  A scenario
could be played out where the new Palestinian president would look to the Arab
League and other internationally recognized bodies for help in preserving what
would now be seen as Palestinian, not Israeli territory.  In addition, border
disputes could be brought to the Quartet (the U.N., U.S., EU, and Russia), and
not to the U.S. alone.  In this regard, the U.S. would be one of only several
brokers involved at the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating table.

It’s expected that the U.S. will use its veto power in
the U.N. Security Council this week, as it has done so in the past, to block a
resolution it firmly opposes.  But, regardless of how the Palestinian statehood
issue plays out, it’s clear what Abbas has in mind long-term.  He is
internationalizing the conflict to reduce American influence in the region.
Putting Palestinian statehood in the hands of the U.N. takes it out of the hands
of the Americans.  Israel’s main Western ally will suffer
humiliation.

This confrontational approach on the part of the
Palestinian leadership is hurting U.S. attempts to forge reconciliation efforts
with the Muslim world, where it has already been on shaky ground
diplomatically.  The current Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. is
embarrassing for the U.S.  America has invested millions of dollars into the
Palestinian economy, strengthened its state institutions, and trained its police
force while issuing Palestinian troops American-made weapons.  Now, the
Palestinian leadership are defying America’s role as the main power broker in
their dispute with the Israelis.

Despite U.S. efforts for over 40 years to forge a
peace between Israel and her neighbors, the Palestinians have forged their own
way to peace.  It’s a road that is leaving American diplomacy in the dust.  It’s
a stab in the back to U.S. mediation efforts.  Furthermore, it will cause U.S.
foreign policy in the Middle East to fall off the beaten track into the
abyss.

Perhaps, America will never regain its special
prominence as the leading nation of the free world that could inspire hope among
the people of the Middle East region.  Some were actually starting to believe
that peace could be attained between Israel and the Palestinians.  This week at
the U.N. could now prove otherwise.

C. Hart is a news analyst reporting
on political, diplomatic, and military issues as they relate to Israel, the
Middle East, and the international
community.

September 20, 2001; Leadership on display

September 20, 2001; Leadership on display

Phil
Boehmke

America was still in a state of shock
when President George W. Bush addressed our nation before a joint session of
Congress on the night of September 20, 2011.  As the President spoke I felt a
deep sense of pride in his leadership and for the first time since the terrorist
attack nine days earlier my faith in America was restored.  Looking back on that
evening and our President’s speech a number of powerful images stand out in my
memory.
President Bush began by addressing
the state of our union:
We
have seen it in the courage of passengers, who rushed terrorists to save others
on the ground–passengers like an exceptional man named Todd Beamer.  And would you please help me to welcome his wife,
Lisa Beamer, here tonight.  We have seen
the state of our Union in the endurance of rescuers, working past exhaustion.
We’ve seen the unfurling of flags, the
light of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers–in English,
Hebrew, and Arabic.  We have seen the decency of a loving and giving people who
have made the grief of strangers their own.  My fellow citizens, for the last
nine days, the entire world has seen for itself the state of our Union–and it
is strong.
The
President gave voice to our need to understand why the terrorists attacked us
and in assessing the state of mind that drives our enemies he made statements
which have turned out to be prophetic in the light of more recent
developments:
Americans are asking, why do they
hate us?  They hate what they see right here in this chamber–a democratically
elected government.  Their leaders are self-appointed.  They hate our
freedoms–our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote
and assemble and disagree with each other.  They want to overthrow existing
governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East.  They want to drive Christians
and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.  These terrorists kill not
merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life.  With every atrocity,
they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking
our friends.  They stand against us, because we stand in their
way.
As
President Bush neared the end of his speech he held up a police
badge:
And I
will carry this:  It is the police shield of a man named George Howard, who died
at the World Trade Center trying to save others.  It was given to me by his mom,
Arlene, as a proud memorial to her son.  This is my reminder of lives that
ended, and a task that does not end.  I will not forget this wound to our
country or those who inflicted it.  I will not yield; I will not rest; I will
not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American
people.  The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain.
Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that
God is not neutral between them.
That
September evening ten years ago our nation witnessed poised and considerate
leadership from our President in the face of incalculable tragedy.  Most of us
who watched President Bush’s thoughtful and moving speech will never forget the
strength of character and steady resolve which he gave to our beleaguered
nation.
September 20,
2011

Issa to launch probe of Obama actions on Solyndra, LightSquared

Issa to launch probe of Obama actions on Solyndra, LightSquared

By Justin Sink – 09/20/11 09:55 AM ET

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that his committee plans to investigate government loan programs to private corporations in light of allegations of improper dealings between the White House and failed energy company Solyndra and wireless start-up LightSquared.

“I want to see when the president and his cronies are picking winners and losers… it wasn’t because there were large contributions given to them,” the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Tuesday morning on C-SPAN.

//

Issa said the committee was looking at whether it was improper for members of Congress or White House staff to select companies eligible for subsidized government loans when those companies could give campaign donations. Loan programs have been a popular tool to provide funding for popular industries — like tech, green energy, and American auto companies — at more favorable terms than could be secured privately.

 

The Obama administration has been defending itself against criticism by Republicans that it exerted improper influence to the aid of both companies.

Solyndra abruptly filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, surprising both employees and the administration, which had secured $535 million in low-interest loans for the company