Israel Political Brief March 6, 2012: Republican Presidential Candidates slam President Barack Obama on Iran in AIPAC Speeches

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Republican White House hopefuls slam Obama on Iran

Source: AFP, 3-6-12

Republican White House hopefuls told Israel’s supporters Tuesday that they would take tougher steps than US President Barack Obama to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Frontrunner Mitt Romney suggested he would be more willing than Obama to consider using military force while Rick Santorum backed an ultimatum demanding Iran stop nuclear production to avoid action by the US to “tear down” its facilities.

Newt Gingrich, a long-shot for president, told the Washington gathering he would back everything short of war to “undermine and replace” the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…. READ MORE

Prior to the Republican speeches, US Democratic Senator Carl Levin warned AIPAC delegates against those who might use the issue of how to provide security to Israel, the top US ally in the Middle East, for partisan gain.

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Israel Political Meeting February 29, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu will ask President Barack Obama to threaten Iran strike at Monday White House Meeting

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Netanyahu will ask Obama to threaten Iran strike

Intensive preparations underway to ensure a successful meeting between the two leaders next week in Washington, despite lack of trust between two sides.

Source: Haaretz, 2-29-12

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to publicly harden his line against Iran during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on March 5, according to a senior Israeli official.

Israel wants Obama to make further-reaching declarations than the vague assertion that “all options are on the table,” the official said. In particular, Netanyahu wants Obama to state unequivocally that the United States is preparing for a military operation in the event that Iran crosses certain “red lines,” said the official; Israel feels this will increase pressure on Iran by making clear that there exists a real U.S. threat.

Bibi Obama - AP - 2.2012 Netanyahu, left, meeting with Obama at the United Nations last September.
Photo by: AP

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Officials in both Jerusalem and Washington acknowledge a serious lack of trust between Israel and the United States with regard to the issue of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. A senior U.S. official who is involved in preparing Netanyahu’s visit to the United States – and who asked to remain anonymous – said intensive preparations are underway to guarantee the success of the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama and to bridge this lack of trust.

The White House proposed to the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday that the two release a joint statement following the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu. The goal of the announcement would be to bridge apparent disagreements between the United States and Israel, and to present a single U.S.-Israeli front in order to leverage pressure on Iran. To date, the United States still has not proposed a text for such an announcement….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief December 10, 2011: Iowa GOP Debate Transcript — Republican Presidential Candidates Rebuke Newt Gingrich on the Palestinians as an “invented people” Comment & Israel Position

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Eric Thayer for The New York Times

Newt, Palestinians and the GOP debate: Transcript & commentary

Source: JTA, 12-10-11

Newt Gingrich’s description of the Palestinians as an “invented people” grabbed some attention at Saturday night’s GOP debate. While most of the GOP field is usually eager to side with Israel, on this point Gingrich got some pushback — from Ron Paul (no surprise), but also from Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:02:29:00 I wanna change subjects now because– (APPLAUSE) foreign policy was– Speaker Gingrich caused something of a stir overnight in the Middle East with comments he made in interview with the Jewish channel in which he called the Palestinians an invented people. And– I just wondered– G– Congressman Paul, if I can start with you: Do you agree with that characterization, that the Palestinians are an invented people?

CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL:
22:02:52:00 N– no, I don’t agree with that. And that’s just stirrin’ up trouble. And I– I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy. I don’t think we should get in the middle of these squabbles. But to go out of our way and say that so-and-so is not a real people? Technically and historically, yes– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn’t have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too.

22:03:13:00 But this is how we get involved in so many messes. And I think it just fails on the side of– practicing a little bit of diplomacy, getting ourselves (LAUGH) into trouble mentioning things that are unnecessary. The people in those regions should be dealing with these problems; we shouldn’t be dealing with these things.

22:03:30:00 But– historically, it– it– you know, under the Ottoman Empire, that i– that is– technically– correct. But to make these decisions in deciding what the settlement’s going to be should be the people that are involved. This idea that we can be the policemen of the world and settle all these disputes, I mean, soon we’ll have to quit because we’re flat out broke. But we– we cannot continue to get into these issues like this and– and– and– and getting ourselves into more trouble.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:04:00:00 Speaker Gingrich, as I’ve said, this has caused quite a reaction in– in the Middle East. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Sa– Saeb Erekat, said, “Mark my words: These statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time.”

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:04:13:00 How would he know the difference? Look from historic, George, simply. Is– is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day, rockets are fired into Israel while the United States, the current administration, tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process?

22:04:33:00 Hamas does not admit the– the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, “Not a single Jew will remain.” The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month, “There is no difference between Fatah and Hamas. We both agree Israel has no right to exist.”

22:04:50:00 Somebody oughta have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, “If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?” We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally– time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, “Enough lying about the Middle East.”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:05:09:00 Governor Romney, (APPLAUSE) you just heard the Speaker say he was just telling the truth. Do you take any issue with that characterization of the Palestinians as an invented people?

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:05:22:00 I– I happen to agree with– with most of what the speaker said, except by going down and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part. I– I think– you– you– I think the speaker would probably suggest that as well. I– I don’t think we want to–

22:05:35:00 (SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: UNINTEL)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:05:37:00 Maybe not. I– (LAUGHTER) I think we’re very wise to stand with our friends, Israel, and not get out ahead of them. This president decided he was gonna try and negotiate for Israel by sayin’, “Let’s go back to the ’67 borders.” That’s not what Israel wanted to h– hear.

22:05:51:00 They– Israel does not want us to make it more difficult for them to sit down with the Palestinians. Ultimately, the Palestinians and the Israelis are gonna have to agree on how they’re gonna settle the– the differences between them. And the United States–

22:06:02:00 (OVERTALK)

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:06:03:00 –and the– and the United States of America should not jump ahead of Bibi Netanyahu and say something that makes it more difficult for him to– to do his job. My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don’t do it in public like he’s done it, we do it in private.

22:06:21:00 And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward. We don’t negotiate for the Israeli people. We stand with the Israeli people, stand with our friends, and make it very clear: We are gonna t– we’re gonna tell the truth, but we’re not gonna throw incendiary words into a– a place which is– a boiling pot when our friends the Israelis would probably say, “What in the world are you doin’?”

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:06:43:00 So there you have it, Mr. Speaker. He says this is gonna make life more difficult for the Israelis.

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:06:47:00 The Israelis are getting rocketed every day. The– we’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration’s making life more difficult. The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story. Somebody oughta have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and “Palestinian” did not become a common term until after 1977. This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage. And we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies. And you’re not gonna win the long run if you’re afraid to stand firm and stand for the truth.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:07:25:00 Of course you s– of course you stand firm, and stand for the truth. But you don’t speak for Israel.

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:07:30:00 I didn’t.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:07:30:00 If– if– if– if Bibi Netanyahu wants to say what you said, let him say it. But our ally, b– the– the people of Israel, should be able to take their own positions and not have us negotiate for them.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:07:41:00 I want to turn, if I can, to–

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:07:42:00 But can– can I just say one last thing? Because I didn’t speak for the people of Israel. I spoke as a historian who’s looked at the world stage for a very long time. I’ve known Bibi since 1984. I feel quite confident an amazing number of Israelis found it nice to have an American tell the truth about the war they are in the middle of and the casualties they’re taking and the people who surround them who say, “You do not have the right to exist, and we want to destroy you.”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:08:04:00 I– I’ve known– I’ve– (APPLAUSE) I’ve also known Bibi Netanyahu for a long time. We worked together at– at Boston Consulting Group. And the last thing Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who’s an historian, but somebody who is also running for president of the United States, stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in– in his neighborhood.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:08:29:00 Congresswoman–

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:08:29:00 And I’m president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability. And make sure that in a setting like this, anything I say that can affect a place with– with rockets going in, with people dying, I don’t do anything that would harm that– that process.

22:08:47:00 And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, “Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let’s work together, because we’re partners.” I’m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:09:00:00 Under the rules, we need– your response. (APPLAUSE)

SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH:
22:09:05:00 I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth, just as was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and reframed the world. I am a Reaganite, I’m proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY:
22:09:32:00 I think it’s important (APPLAUSE)–

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:09:37:00 Who’s got the better of this argument, Congresswoman Bachmann? Who’s got the better of this argument?

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:09:41:00 Who has the better of this argument?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:09:42:00 Yeah. (LAUGHTER)

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:09:46:00 In 1974, I went to Israel for the first time and I worked on a kibbutz for the summer. And I saw a brand new nation that had begun in 1948 and was making its way into the modernization that we know today. They’re a first world nation. I was able to return as a member of Congress multiple times, and I also met with Fayad in Ramallah in the very room that Arafat used as his conference room. When I was in there, I– I had asked Fayad about the issue that we were very concerned about, and that’s how the Palestinians teach their children to hate the Jews and call them pigs and swine and descendants from Hades.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:10:24:00 Okay, but do you think–

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:10:24:00 And I– and let me finish–

22:10:25:00 (OVERTALK)

CONGRESSWOMAN MICHELE BACHMANN:
22:10:26:00 And I have asked him about this very important issues, because how do you find peace when you continue to teach your children hatred? And asked Fayad about this issue, and he said, “Oh, tha– we don’t do that anymore. Our textbooks aren’t filled with that.”

22:10:38:00 And I said, “Oh really?” I pulled out a manila envelope that I’d brought with me, and I pulled out the pages that I’d photocopied out of current books that were being used that clearly showed that. And he said, “Oh, but these are old textbooks.” And he said– I said, “Really? Well, then why don’t you send me the new textbooks that no longer say that and compare them with the old?” And I checked my mailbox today; he still hasn’t me those textbooks. That’s what needs to change.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:11:06:00 Senator Santorum, let me put to you George’s question. Who’s got the better of the argument?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:
22:11:11:00 Well, I– I think you have to speak the truth– but you have to do so with prudence. I mean, it’s– it’s a combination. Th– and, you know, I– I– I sat there and I listened to both of ’em; I thought they both had– made excellent points.

22:11:23:00 But we’re in a real-life situation. This isn’t an academic exercise. We’ve got– we have a– we have an ally, and the policy of this country should be to stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally. And– we– we didn’t have an ally in the Soviet Union. The only allies we had were sitting in gulags, and they desperately needed to hear the truth. And Ronald Reagan provided that truth.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:11:44:00 So– so do we–

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:
22:11:44:00 Here, we have–

22:11:45:00 (OVERTALK)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS:
22:11:45:00 –with prudence, would that be saying (NOISE) Palestinians are invented or not?

SENATOR RICK SANTORUM:
22:11:50:00 If I can finish my s– comment, I’ll get to that, George. (LAUGHTER) That– that we– we have an ally here that we have to work closely with. And I think Mitt’s point was– was the correct one. We need to be working with the Israelis to find out, you know what? Is this a wise thing for us to do, to step forward and to engage this issue? Maybe it is.

22:12:10:00 My guess is, at this point in time, it’s not. Not that we shouldn’t tell the truth, but we should be talking to our allies. It’s their fight. We are to be their ally, we’re to be– supporting them. And I’m– I– I’ve been out here very publicly– that the Israelis have the right to determine what happens in their land. And all of Israel, including the quote– you know, West Bank, is Israeli land. And we need to work with them as to the solution that works best for our ally.

DIANE SAWYER:
22:12:36:00 Governor Perry, close this–

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY:
22:12:37:00 Let me–

DIANE SAWYER:
22:12:37:00 –please.

GOVERNOR RICK PERRY:
22:12:38:00 –just say that I think this is a minor issue– that the media is blowing– way out of proportion. We have a president of the United States who has put the most muddled foreign policy in place that is causing the problems in the Middle East. Whether it goes back to two thousand and– and– nine when we had an opportunity to impact Iran, whether it has been the way that– he stood back in Egypt and did not try to negotiate people who would come in that w– could work with us, and now we have radical Islamists as the head of Egypt, whether it was leading from the rear, if you will, in — in Libya.

22:13:18:00 The idea that this president now, with Iran getting one of our predator drones in their possession, and he had two opportunities– well, he didn’t have two opportunities, he had two choices– actually, he had three. And he chose the worst.

22:13:33:00 And those two opportunities he had was to either retrieve that drone, or to destroy it, and he did the worst of the three and he did absolutely nothing. And the Russians and the Chinese will have our highly technical equipment now. This president is the problem, not something that Newt Gingrich said. (APPLAUSE)

Israel Political Brief December 9, 2011: US GOP Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich says Palestinians are an ‘invented’ people in Jewish Channel Interview

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Gingrich says Palestinians are an ‘invented’ people

The Jewish Channel Exclusive Interview With Newt Gingrich Excerpt: “Invented Palestinian People” — YouTube

Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich said in a cable television interview that Palestininans are an “invented” people with no apparent right to their own state, a rejection of a decade of bipartisan U.S. foreign policy calling for an independent Palestinian state.


House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) speaks during the Republican Jewish Coalition 2012 Presidential Candidates Forum December 7, 2011 at Ronald Reagan Building and International Center in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong – GETTY IMAGES)

The interview, which was taped in Washington Wednesday and will be broadcast on The Jewish Channel Monday, was first reported by Politico.

In the interview, Gingrich was asked if he is a Zionist, and he responded:

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. We have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab people, and they had the chance to go many places.”

“For a variety of political reasons,” Gingrich continued, “we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it’s tragic.”

Gingrich’s comments are sure to inflame Arabs but may also have repercussions among Jews who support the policy, begun by former president George W. Bush and continued by President Obama, of calling for a separate Palestinian state.

“It was definitely a surprise,” said Steven I. Weiss, who conducted the interview with Gingrich for The Jewish Channel. “It’s a comment I’ve heard before because I’ve covered the far right in the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community. But I was surprised to hear a mainstream Republican figure say it, and I’ve tried to research to find other mainstream Republican figures who said it. I’ve yet to find that.”

Gingrich’s remarks may also feed into a longstanding narrative about him that includes the idea that he says provocative things that excite some of his supporters but leave others worried that he is too volatile to muster the rhetorical discipline to survive the rigors of a presidential campaign.

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