Israel Political Brief April 9, 2012: Rick Santorum’s New York Daily News Op-ed ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Israel’

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Jerusalem is the capital of Israel

The following Op-Ed by Rick Santorum first appeared in the New York Daily News on April 9, 2012: 

There is, sadly, a huge divide between the Obama administration’s position and that of the government of Israel with regard to Jerusalem.For thousands of years, at the end of the Passover Seder as well as at the end of Yom Kippur, Jews around the world conclude their holiday by reciting, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

To Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest city, and has the holiest site, the Temple Mount, which includes the Western Wall. Jews praying outside of Jerusalem face toward Jerusalem. When Israel became a state more than 60 years ago, Jerusalem, though it was divided at the time and the Western Wall was in Jordanian hands, was declared Israel’s capital.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case brought by an American Jewish family, the Zivotofskys, whose child was born in West Jerusalem in 2002. The Obama administration, following the Bush administration’s policy, opposed listing “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on the child’s American passport — despite a U.S. law requiring such a listing.

The U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-1 margin, decided that the State Department could not wantonly break such a law and prevent the judiciary from reviewing that breach. I agree with that decision.

Even more startling than this refusal to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on an American passport was an exchange at a March 2012 Obama State Department press briefing. In an exchange with Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, the spokeswoman made it clear that even Jerusalem’s western part, the Jewish side of the city, controlled by Israel since 1949, is not recognized as part of Israel.

The question was asked repeatedly:

Q: “What is the capital of Israel?”

A: “Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.”

The conversation continued:

Q: “Is it your — is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think — or is it just East Jerusalem?”

A: “Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I’ve said 17 times on that subject. Okay?”

And again:

Q: “All right. So hold on. So I just want to make sure. You’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.”

A: “Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said.”

The Obama administration is thus saying that it does not even recognize Israel within its indefensible 1949 borders but that somehow it will protect Israel’s security?

It has been longstanding U.S. policy not to officially recognize any part of Jerusalem as part of Israel — and it is dead wrong.

Never has Israel ever offered Western Jerusalem in a negotiation, so why would the administration keep this totally Jewish section of the city in question?

The Israeli Gaza withdrawal and the missiles that are launching from there into Israeli cities demonstrates that any Israeli withdrawal from any part of Jerusalem would leave Israel without defensible borders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, as have other Israeli prime ministers, that he will never divide Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that my opponent for the Republican Presidential nomination has a different position from that of the President. He has not expressed his opinion about the Obama administration’s position on Jerusalem.

When asked about recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our embassy there, Mitt Romney is undecided, and said he would consult with the government of Israel. He has been running for President for six years, and I think that is long enough for him to get up to speed on foreign policy and make a decision on this crucial issue.

There is no daylight between my position and the government of Israel’s on the issue of Jerusalem. I voted for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, I support recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and I will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in compliance with that act.

It is actually not well known that the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 made it U.S. law to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the waiver provision of the act only applied to moving the embassy to Jerusalem. A letter to President Bill Clinton — signed by 84 U.S. senators, including me — articulated this point.

We know the Obama administration is not complying with U.S. law. We do not know what a potential Romney administration would do. A Santorum administration would mean that next year, there will be a Passover Seder at the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and when Jews say, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” that will actually be the case for the U.S. Embassy.

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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.

Full Text Israel Political Brief March 6, 2012: Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s Speech / Remarks to AIPAC American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference 2012 — Transcript

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Mitt Romney Delivers Remarks to AIPAC Policy Conference

Source: Mitt Romney, 3-6-12

romney-2012-blog-photo-mitt-speech-podium.jpg
Thank you for the opportunity to address the AIPAC Policy Conference. And thanks to Teddy and Ed, who have been great friends, supporters, and teachers over the years.
I regret that my Super Tuesday travel schedule prevents me from being with you in person. But while I can’t be with you, I stand with you. I share your commitment to a strong and secure Israel. And I salute your tireless work to strengthen our alliance.
This year, we are gathering at a dangerous time for Israel and for America. Not since the dark days of 1967 and 1973 has the Middle East faced peril as it does today. This is a critical moment. America must not – and, if I am President, it will not – fail this defining test of history.
The current administration has distanced itself from Israel and visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause. It has emboldened the Palestinians. They are convinced that they can do better at the UN – and better with America – than they can at the bargaining table with Israel.
As President, I will treat our allies and friends like friends and allies.
In recent days and weeks, we’ve heard a lot of words from the administration. Its clear message has been to warn Israel to consider the costs of military action against Iran. I do not believe that we should be issuing public warnings that create distance between the United States and Israel. Israel does not need public lectures about how to weigh decisions of war and peace. It needs our support.
Israel’s democratically elected leaders will always be welcomed and respected by my administration. Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend; he’s an old friend. We worked together over 30 years ago at the Boston Consulting Group. He is a leader whose intellect and courage I admire – and whose family’s sacrifice I profoundly respect. In a Romney administration, there will be no gap between our nations or between our leaders.
I have seen Israel by land and by air. I have seen its narrow waist, and its vulnerability to positions on the Golan Heights. I have spent time with families in Sderot who have been terrorized by rocket barrages from Gaza. I have walked the streets of Jerusalem, seen schools pocked by rifle rounds fired from the foreboding hills that nearly surround it. I would never call for a return to the ’67 lines because I understand that in Israel, geography is security.
I have studied the writings and speeches of the jihadists. They argue for a one-state solution—one all-dominating radical Islamist state, that is. Their objective is not freedom, not prosperity, not a Palestinian state, but the destruction of Israel. And negotiating and placating such jihadists will never, ever yield peace in the Middle East.
I recognize in the ayatollahs of Iran the zealot refrain of dominion. Their passion for the martyrdom of Arab youth is matched only by their cowardice in avoiding it for themselves. Nuclear ambition is pursued by Iran to dominate, to subjugate, and to obliterate. A nuclear Iran is not only a problem for Israel; it is also a problem for America and the world.
We may not know when Iran will secure sufficient fissile material to threaten the world, but the IAEA warns that that the hour is fast approaching.
In the Gulf, Iran prepares to close the Strait of Hormuz, to hold hostage 20 percent of the world’s oil. In their nuclear laboratories, they prepare the means to hold hostage the entire planet.
Iran has long engaged in terrorism around the world, most recently in Georgia and in Thailand. In Washington, DC, Iran plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador by bombing a Georgetown restaurant. Iran has deployed Hezbollah and Hamas and armed the insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan, killing our sons and daughters. They war against America.
Yet, the current administration has promoted a policy of engagement with Iran. The President offered to sit down with Ahmadinejad during his first year in office without preconditions. He sat silent as Iranian dissidents took to the streets of Tehran, not wanting to disrupt the potential opportunity for dialogue with Iran’s fanatical tyrants. This President not only dawdled in imposing crippling sanctions, he has opposed them.
Hope is not a foreign policy. The only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve, backed by our power and our readiness to use it.
Of course, the administration’s naïve outreach to Iran gave the ayatollahs exactly what they wanted most. It gave them time. Whatever sanctions they may now belatedly impose, Iran has already gained three invaluable years.
There are some in this administration who argue that Iran’s leaders are “rational,” and that we can do business with them. The President speaks of common interests. Let me be clear: we do not have common interests with a terrorist regime. Their interest is in the destruction of Israel and the domination of the Middle East. It is profoundly irrational to suggest that the ayatollahs think the way we do or share our values. They do not.
I will bring the current policy of procrastination toward Iran to an end. I will not delay in imposing further crippling sanctions, and I will not hesitate to fully implement the ones we currently have. I will make sure Iran knows of the very real peril that awaits if it becomes nuclear. I will engage Iran’s neighbors. I will station multiple carriers and warships at Iran’s door. I will stand with the Syrian people who are being mercilessly slaughtered. I know that the fall of Assad would not only be an important victory for liberty, but also a strategic blow to Tehran.
As President, I will be ready to engage in diplomacy. But I will be just as ready to engage our military might. Israel will know that America stands at its side, in all conditions and in all consequence.
Of course, American strength abroad depends upon our strength at home. My economic plans will buttress our capacity to project power. And as President, I will repair and strengthen our military. President Obama wants to shrink our Navy, our Air Force, and our contingent of fighting men and women. I will expand them. A military in retreat invites adventurism by the world’s worst actors, just as we are seeing today. A strong and superior military is the best ally peace has ever known. I do not seek military superiority solely for the purpose of winning wars. I seek it to prevent wars.
As President, peace will be my solemn goal. A peace based not on empty assurances, but on true security and defensible borders. This will require American strength, and a demonstration of our resolve. That’s why, as President, my first foreign trip will not be to Cairo or Riyadh or Ankara. It will be to Jerusalem.
We will make clear to the world that Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state is a vital national interest of the United States.
I believe the right course is what Ronald Reagan called “peace through strength.” There is a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn into office. As President, I will offer that kind of clarity, strength, and resolve.
In a Romney administration, the world will know that the bond between Israel and America is unbreakable – and that our opposition to a nuclear Iran is absolute. We must not allow Iran to have the bomb or the capacity to make a bomb. Our enemies should never doubt our resolve and our allies should never doubt our commitment.
This is a critical time, and AIPAC has a vital voice. Together, let’s achieve peace for the region and ensure a secure future for Israel – and America.
God bless America, and God bless our friendship with Israel.

Israel Political Brief March 1, 2012: Three GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum & Newt Gingrich to address AIPAC via satellite

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Three GOP candidates to address AIPAC via satellite

Source: JTA, 3-1-12

Three of the four Republican presidential candidates will speak to the AIPAC conference by satellite on Super Tuesday.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich each will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on the morning of March 6 before an expected 13,000 activists — a record number. The activists will spend the rest of the day lobbying Congress to ratchet up Iran’s isolation and intensify the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship.

Ten states will be voting in primaries on Super Tuesday, so the candidates will speak by satellite as they spend the day campaigning.

President Obama will address the conference on Sunday morning; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to speak the next evening….READ MORE

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

What are your thoughts on this issue? Follow Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views.

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

Israel Political Brief February 29, 2012: Mitt Romney Wins Arizona Primary — Narrowly Beats Rick Santorum in Michigan Primary

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Romney wins in Michigan, Arizona

Source: JTA, 2-29-12

Mitt Romney won Republican primary contests in Arizona and Michigan, maintaining his front-runner status.

In Michigan, the state his father governed and where he was raised, Romney beat back a challenge Tuesday by Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, 41 percent to 38 percent, with nearly all of the vote counted.

But Santorum’s strong challenge forecasts a long and difficult fight for Romney to win the nomination for president. The former Massachusetts governor had to outspend Santorum in a state that just weeks ago he had been expected to win handily.

Romney won handily in Arizona, defeating Santorum by 47 percent to 27 percent….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief February 28, 2012: Republican Presidential Candidates on the issues: GOP hopefuls on Israel, Iran, abortion, Social Security and more

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On the issues: GOP hopefuls on Israel, Iran, abortion, Social Security and more

Source: JTA, 2-28-12

In advance of Super Tuesday, JTA takes a look at the stances of the four Republican presidential candidates on some issues of Jewish interest….Read More »

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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