Israel must respond to the United Nations recognition of “Palestine”, Senator John McCain said on Sunday.
McCain, the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2008, made the comments in a special interview with Israel’s Channel 10 News. He said that Israel should consult carefully with the U.S. on how it should respond to the unilateral move.
“I don’t fault either the Israeli or the American government (for the vote in the UN passing with an overwhelming majority –ed.),” Mc Cain said. “We knew this had been planned for several years, and you also know that the problem is that this now gives them some kind of entry into things like the International Criminal Court and others.”
He added, “I think, though, that the United States should react by saying, ‘We’re not only not going to be part of anything like this, but we’re also not going to spend American taxpayers’ dollars.’ That usually gets their attention.”
The U.S. and Israel do not want the Palestinian Authority to fail, said McCain, “but at the same time we cannot have action like this go unresponded to. It’s going to take some thinking and consultation with Congress” on how to respond, he added.
Responding to a question about whether the U.S. was right in pressuring Israel not to respond harshly to the PA’s unilateral move, McCain said he would not have pressured Israel but noted that relations between President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have not been good.
“It is in both their interests to work more closely together than they have in the last four years,” he said. “Out of pure pragmatism I’d think that there’s going to be greater cooperation, but at the same time Israel is not going to allow the United States or any country dictate its policies, particularly where Iran is concerned.”
Asked if he thinks Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was right when he said during his recent campaign that Obama had thrown Israel under the bus, McCain responded, “I’m not sure I’d use that phraseology but President Obama ran against me and said his first priority was the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and then he started out with a demand for a settlement freeze. That’s a non-starter, and I said so at the time.
“What I think is that if the President is serious, and I think he’s serious, I would appoint the highest-ranking person that I possibly could – President Bill Clinton comes to mind – to try to get this process moving. As long as there’s this potential for conflict there’s going to be a very difficult situation in the Middle East,” he added.