UNION SQUARE — Texas Gov. Rick Perry lashed out at President Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel Tuesday, slamming it as “misguided and dangerous” during a trip to Manhattan.
Fresh from an appearance with Latino business leaders Uptown, Perry, one of the top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, took to the podium just blocks from where Obama and other world leaders were gathered at the United Nations.
U.S. officials have adamantly vowed to veto any bid by Abbas, which could come as early as this week.
“Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn’t naïve, arrogant, misguided and dangerous,” Perry told a room packed with prominent Orthodox Jewish leaders, as well as several members of the Israeli Knesset, at the W Hotel on Park Avenue South.
Perry, who said that his Christian faith gives him "a clear directive to support Israel," slammed what he characterized as Obama's “policy of appeasement” toward the Middle East, which he said had encouraged Abbas's "ominous act.”
“Our actions in recent years have destabilized the Middle East,” Perry said.
Perry, the current Governor of Texas, also stood side-by-side with newly-minted Rep. Bob Turner, whose decisive win to fill the seat left empty by disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner was painted by many as a referendum on the president’s policy in the Middle East.
“As you know, I’m the messenger from the 9th Congressional District, and the message that the voters sent was that this administration has been vacillating… at times hostile to Israel… and that is not acceptable,” Turner told the crowd, which frequently erupted into cheers.
Perry criticized the president for suggesting that the 1967 borders be used as the starting point for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to develop a Palestinian state.
He praised Israel as the country’s “oldest and strongest” ally in the Middle East and said the U.S. should threaten to withdraw funding of U.N. operations if a Palestinian state is declared. Perry also threatened to pull aid to the Palestinians unless their leaders cooperate.
Joseph Frager, who was among those who invited Perry to speak, said that the speech was intended to send a clear message that any bid for statehood must be defeated “for the sake of peace in the world.”
Attorney Susan Settenbrino, who has a law office on the Upper West Side and was among those who came out to hear Perry speak, also praised the could-be nominee for his strong approach.
“I’m very concerned about the president’s position. I’m here to stand up for what’s right,” said Settenbrino, who grew up voting Democrat, but said that Israel will be a dominating issue for her this election.
“I think he’s a very formidable candidate and has a clear perspective,” she said of Perry.
Pro-Israeli supporters are planning to protest the Palestinian bid for statehood throughout the day.