Members of the U.S. Republican party, some of them presidential hopefuls, on Thursday criticized President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East and accused him of betraying Israel.
“President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus,” Former Massachusetts governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a statement quoted on Politico.com. “He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace. He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends.”
Romney, who is well acquainted with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, visited Israel in January.
Minnesota House member Michele Bachmann also responded to the presidential speech, saying on her Twitter account that Obama had “betrayed our friend and ally Israel. Obama’s call for 1967 borders will cause chaos, division & more aggression in Middle East and put Israel at further risk.”
Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, also a potential Republican candidate for the presidency, called Obama’s call for Israel return to the so-called ‘1967 borders’ – the 1949 Armistice Lines which are considered indefensible by defense experts – “a mistaken a very dangerous demand.”
In a statement quoted in Politico, Pawlenty said that “the city of Jerusalem must never be re-divided. To send a signal to the Palestinians that America will increase its demands on our ally Israel, on the heels of the Palestinian Authority’s agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, is a disaster waiting to happen. At this time of upheaval in the Middle East, it's never been more important for America to stand strong for Israel and for a united Jerusalem.”
Florida Republican Allen West also blasted Obama’s speech in a statement he released and which was quoted by Newsmax:
“Today’s endorsement by President Barack Obama of the creation of a Hamas-led Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders, signals the most egregious foreign policy decision his administration has made to date, and could be the beginning of the end as we know it for the Jewish state,” said West.
“The pre-1967 borders endorsed by President Obama would deny millions of the world’s Jews access to their holiest site and force Israel to return the strategically important Golan Heights to Syria, a known state-sponsor of terrorism,” he added and emphasized that “there has always been a Nation of Israel and Jerusalem has been and must always be recognized as its rightful capital.”
West also said that “the Hamas-run Palestinian state envisioned by President Obama would be devastating to Israel and the world’s 13.3 million Jews. It would be a Pavlovian style reward to a declared Islamic terrorist organization, and an unacceptable policy initiative.” He called for the United States to “never negotiate with the Palestinian Authority- which has aligned itself with Hamas.”
West called on the American people “to stand by our strongest ally, the Jewish State of Israel, and reject this foreign policy blunder of epic proportions…The President should focus on the real obstacle to security- the Palestinian leadership and its ultimate goal to eliminate Israel and the Jewish people.”
In his speech at the State Department, Obama called for “two states for two peoples” with permanent borders based on the “1967 lines with agreed upon swaps.” He also mentioned that the PA state should be contiguous.
“Our policy is two states for two peoples,” Obama said. “Israel as a Jewish state for the Jewish people. Palestine as a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people. A viable Palestine; a secure Israel.”
The president also called on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and maintained that the PA state be demilitarized. He rejected unilateral moves by Palestinian Authority leaders to achieve a declaration of statehood outside of negotiations in the United Nations in September, saying efforts to isolate Israel in the UN, and delegitimize Israel, won't achieve statehood.