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Perry To Israel: 'Help Is On The Way'

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Perry To Israel: 'Help Is On The Way'

Politics

Perry To Israel: 'Help Is On The Way'

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

Texas Governor Rick Perry is also in New York. The governor has been making the rounds on a presidential campaign trip. He had dinner with Rupert Murdoch and met with Hispanic business leaders, among other things. And though he's not there for the United Nations meeting, Governor Perry did hurl himself into the debate over U.S. foreign policy. He gave a public address on the Middle East, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE: Perry criticized the White House for seeking concessions from Israel, in particular, the administration's call for a freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. He argues that the Obama administration has emboldened the Palestinian Authority to turn its back on the peace process and seek a vote on statehood in the U.N. instead.

RICK PERRY: Indeed, bolstered by the Obama administration's policies and the apologist at the U.N., the Palestinians are exploiting the instability in the Middle East, hoping to achieve their objective without concessions and direct negotiations with Israel.

ROSE: Perry promised there will be no ambiguity if he's elected president.

PERRY: We are going to be there to support you, and we are going to be unwavering in that. So I hope you will tell the people of Israel that help is on the way.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

ROSE: The White House's relationship with Israel has lately emerged as a potent issue in New York politics. It helped propel Republican Bob Turner to a special election victory last week in a New York City congressional district dominated by Democrats. Turner was at Perry's side on Tuesday to reinforce that point, so was New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew and a Democrat who crossed party lines to endorse Turner.

DOV HIKIND: The message in the 9th District is a very clear one, and it should be crystal clear to the White House: we don't like your policy on Israel.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

ROSE: Hikind stopped short of endorsing Rick Perry, but he did offer this compliment.

HIKIND: Saw your article in the Wall Street Journal, and I said, that sounds like me. Those sound like the speeches I've been making for years. Those sound like a man who really understands the situation the people of Israel are confronted with. They want peace.

ROSE: But some observers, including many in the American Jewish community, say that's going too far. David Harris of the American Jewish Committee points out the White House has threatened to veto a resolution on Palestinian statehood in the Security Council.

DAVID HARRIS: That's pretty heavy lifting. It's also said no to a Palestinian strategy at the General Assembly that would try and create some kind of statehood. That takes a lot of commitment. So just this week, there are some very good examples of an administration standing pretty tall, pretty strong in order to defend both Israel and the relationship with the United States.

ROSE: Still, Malley admits there is a perception that the White House has not been as supportive of Israel as it could have been. And he thinks President Obama's political adversaries will continue to exploit that perception. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.

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