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Republicans pull no punches in critiquing Obama's new Israel policy

President Barack Obama met with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office on Friday.
REUTERS/Jim Young
President Barack Obama met with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office on Friday.

WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress this morning, ending a four-day trip to Washington that was defined by tensions between him and President Barack Obama that in turn led many potential Republican presidential candidates — including Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty — to openly accuse Obama of not standing strongly enough with Israel.

“In a shocking display of betrayal towards our ally, President Obama is now calling on Israel to give up yet more land and return to its 1967 borders,” Bachmann said in a statement Thursday. “In an era dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’ we have seen increased volatility in the Middle East region, and President Obama has only added to the heightened hostility by calling on Israel to return to the 1967 borders. I disagree with President Obama and I stand with our friend Israel 100 percent.”

On Sunday, after Obama addressed AIPAC, Netanyahu downplayed any potential tension between himself and Obama, telling the Associated Press: “It's true we have some differences of opinion, but these are among friends. … There should be no doubt about the strength of the American-Israeli relationship and President Obama's commitment to Israel and its security.”

Response from other likely and possible Republican presidential candidates matched Bachmann’s. Depending on whom you ask, the president “threw Israel under the bus” with his “extraordinarily dangerous plan,” one that is “a disaster waiting to happen.”

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who formally announced his candidacy Monday, said last week that pushing Israel to accept the 1967 borders is “a mistaken and very dangerous demand.

“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,” he said in a statement released by his campaign. “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.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Obama “has thrown Israel under the bus.

“He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said in a statement. “He has also violated a first principle of American foreign policy, which is to stand firm by our friends."

On CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ Sunday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called the plan a “disaster.”

“I think it is extraordinarily dangerous. I think that defining the 1967 border would be an act of suicide for Israel. They are totally non-defensible. I think for the United States, you know — we don’t have moral equivalence here. You have Hamas which is a terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. You have a democracy. Now the idea that somehow we’re supposed to be neutral between Hamas and Israel is fundamentally flawed,” Gingrich said. “A President who can’t control his own border probably shouldn’t lecture Israel about their border.”

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin weighed in on Facebook, comparing Obama’s suggestion to Israel to a hypothetical demand of the U.S. that would never be accepted by the American public.

“I reject President Obama’s idea that Israel must cede back its territories to the 1967 line," Palin wrote. 

"Will we now be in the habit of telling our allies what their borders should be? Should Prime Minister Netanyahu suggest we return to our 1845 borders before the annexation of the southwest of the United States during the Mexican-American War? Should we give back parts of Texas, New Mexico, and California?”

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Comments (9)

Obama said nothing different that what has been the US position for decades. This is a staged kerfluffel that is an attempt to distract from the "lebensraum" policy of recent Israeli politicians and reset the discussions to a new start-point deep in former Palestinian territory.

How would any country in the Americas or Europe like it if their neighbor had a policy of expanding it's borders to accommodate the "natural growth" of it's population?

Might lead to some conflict, eh?

In their responses to President Obama, AIPAC, et al, prove once again that "Duh Nile (denial) is not JUST a river in Egypt."

President Obama is only reflecting the attitudes of the majority of Israelis and the majority of Americans both groups of whom are beginning to realize that the directions "conservatives" in both countries have driven policy are becoming increasingly destructive.

Because of the domination of Israel's parliamentary system by the MOST conservative wing of the political system (who, because they are needed as part of any governing coalition, are always able to function as the tail that wags the dog),

And the domination of the American media by the noisiest (and, therefore, most exciting) of the Evangelical Christians and the domination of Washington by members of or supporters of AIPAC,

Most Americans are not aware that what's happening with the Palestinians is NOT supported by the majority of Israelis nor are Israelis aware that American government policy is not supported by the majority of Americans.

President Obama is simply trying to steer US policy toward Israel and Israel itself away from the current favored policies and perspectives that will, inevitably, lead to only one outcome:

The destruction of Israel.

Of course the dysfonic members of AIPAC who seem to think that if they could just permanently lock all the Palestinians into internment camps (with "werk macht frei" over the gates?) Israel would be eternally safe, and thereby seem determined to repeat the mistakes of their ancient ancestors prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple back in 70 BC...

and the Evangelical Christians who are still trying to find a perfect red heifer to sacrifice on the altar of the rebuilt Temple once the al-Aqsa Mosque has been torn down and the Jerusalem Temple rebuilt, (as if that would not be a cause for all-out Israeli-Arab war)...

thereby ushering "the second coming," which "the Jews" must accomplish before all those who do not immediately afterward convert to Christianity will be sent straight to hell, (as if God is allowing us humans to set the timing for that fabled event),...

Both are going to scream bloody murder that Obama's gentle push toward policy changes will get in the way of their very dysfonic human designs,...

designs based on their amazingly mistaken belief that human nature and at least a thousand years of human history will be suspended in their favor if they just really, really, really want to accomplish that can never be accomplished in the ways they're trying to accomplish it (safety, security, and lasting peace for Israel).

Yes,unfortunately,Mr.Obama,lake they say,try to take a seat on two chairs in his politics and attempts to be loved by all people in the World.As a result,almost all folks in Middle East do not like him too much and "assault"him as soon as possible to do so.This situation looks as fail of international politics and makes only additional turmoils in other countries and raises disbelieve to American Government because US is still Greatest country in the World and has much authority. Actually many people also discuss between each other about american President's "traitor"position toward to Egypt's President Mr.Hosnie Mubarak,person who has held prowestern position and now expects execution despite resided byhimself using american government reccomendations and now situation on Egypt-Israel border is very tough.That is one of results of Nobel Prize Peace winner's politics.Halliluia, everybody!

Friends don't let friends occupy territory that doesn't belong to them. Being a true friend to Israel does not mean saying "yes" to every bad policy that they come up with. Condoning (or promoting)continual territorial annexation by ultra-orthodox "settlers" will never result in peace with Israel's neighbors. The very last thing that Israel really needs is friends like Bachmann.

Bachmann's assessment of Middle East foreign policy is laughable, considering her undistinguished record and inability to grasp the domestic challenges of places like Forest Lake and Scandia.

Would you recommend Russia to return back German's territory Kenigsberg(previous Capital of Prussia),annexed from Germany in the result of Second World War after Germany assaulted Former USSR and also return back to Japan Kurils(as a result of Victory).Can you guess what russians will answer?Yes,they will send you far away verbally because this is none of your business to say so to nuclear,huge country.Also as citizens of US you may advice US Government to give back Texas,California to previous nations and you have all rights to raize your voice for that justice. I am sure you,guys will keep you big mouth shut and you won't say nothing.All that 62 years even Israel took his independency from United Nations and tried to build peace with arabs,they never recognised Israel as a state, got all opportunities to start wars and kill israeli people till present time and they attempted to destroy Israel in 1967 but they failed that very much.Now they launch every day few rockets toward to Israel territory,kill people and cry like crocodails for all World.Can you imagine what will be happened if Israel leave towards 1967 territory?By the way,Israeli Government(Ariel Sharon)made a solution to leave Gaza strip under US advice and what they have gotten?Rockets,terror,murders very close to their new border.It is simply terrible !! So keep doing our own things.We have lot of things to do on our own and let nobody put noses in somebody's own business.I would advice to Mr.Obama to take care his own problems like the 14.3 trillions national debt,unemployment and etc.Good luck,Mr.Obama to handle so!

Gregory - If u don't want to give back the land, then give them equal rights. Can't have it both ways. Citizens of Texas are full citizens. How about Palestinians, if you don't want to give their lands back

"Tried to build peace with Arabs" - Oh please, Gregory, read a few quotes of both sides. Quit revising history here. We are not all AIPAC drones otu here.

"solution to leave Gaza" - You mean withdrawing without any cooperation with the Palestinians and defacto handing it to Hamas. You kinda forgot that little point.

America can take care of its problems. Can Israel ? Or are you still waiting for the billions in aid ?

The real roadblock is (and always has been) the Israelis and the Palestinians, not the US President.

Obama's mild scolding of Israel is neither a policy change or an "abandonment" of Israel to "hostile" neighboring countries.

As the WikiLeaks cables have shown, Israel does NOT negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians. It is more likely that the never-ending/never progrressing psuedonegotiations do more to buy time for Israel to create more "conditions on the ground" that must be left as is -- such as all the illegal settlements and the theft of most of Jerusalem, the virtual imprisonment of Gazans in what should be their free country, and the reductions in civil rights for their Irab citizens.

IF Israel is allowed to call itself a "Jewish" state, it would just mean that it can expel all its Arab citizens from the homes their families have lived in for centuries, just like those families whose families have lived on the farms Israeli settlers confiscate.

Peace in the Middle East is up to Israel, not its victims. To resist illegal occupation, as Hamas and Hezbollah have done, is not a war crime. But Israel's assaults on Gaza and Lebanon are.