Gov. Perry Shows His Ignorance On The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

September 16, 2011 4:56 pm ET

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has written an op-ed, published in both the Jerusalem Post and Wall Street Journal, assailing the impending Palestinian statehood initiative before the United Nations and, unsurprisingly, putting much of the blame on the Obama administration. Perry, of course, has little knowledge of foreign policy, which is evident by the fact that he signed his name to such easily refutable claims. Highlighting his inability to accurately connect interrelated issues or make logical conclusions, Perry writes that through their statehood efforts at the U.N., "the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution." Of course, the whole point of the U.N. move, as even opponents understand, is to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. By definition, those would be two different states. This sort of ignorance permeates the piece.

Perry Fundamentally Misunderstands The Concept Of A Two-State Solution

Perry: Palestinian Efforts At U.N. Demonstrate That They Don't Want A Two-State Solution. Rick Perry writes in the Jerusalem Post:

In refusing to deal with the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and taking this destabilizing action in the UN, the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution. [Jerusalem Post, 9/15/11]

The Palestinian statehood initiative. by definition, proves the Palestinian desire for two states

New York Times: Abbas Says He Will Seek A Palestinian State At The Security Council. As reported by the New York Times:

The Palestinian president announced Friday that he would seek membership for a Palestinian state at the United Nations Security Council next week, a move strongly opposed by Israel and the United States that adds significant tension to one of the most intractable conflicts in the Middle East. [...]

[Abbas] also said the statehood application was not meant to isolate Israel but rather to emphasize what he called Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian lands since the 1967 war. He also said his criticism of Israel was not a challenge to Israel's right to exist.

"Israel is there," he said. "No one is going to take its legal status. It's a recognized country." [New York Times, 9/16/11]

USA Today: Palestinian Officials Foresee Secular, Pluralistic State. As reported by USA Today:

Palestinian leaders say a future Palestinian state would be secular and open to all religions - even Jews - if they are willing to follow their laws as Palestinian citizens.

The Palestinians say they'll seek a vote on Palestinian statehood in the United Nations this month.

"The future Palestinian state will be open to all its citizens, regardless of their religion," Mahmoud Habbash, the Palestinian Authority's minister of religious affairs, said in Ramallah. "We want a civil state, which in it live all the faiths, Muslim, Christian and Jews also if they agree, (and) accept to be Palestinian citizens." [USA Today, 9/15/11]

Perry Distorts The U.S. Role In The Palestinian Statehood Campaign

Perry: U.S. Pressure On Israel Emboldened Palestinians. Rick Perry writes in the Jerusalem Post:

Unfortunate errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take steps backward away from peace. It was a mistake to inject an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks. Indeed, the Palestinian leadership had been negotiating with Israel for years, notwithstanding settlement activity. [Jerusalem Post, 9/15/11]

U.S. Efforts Have Been Aimed At Preempting Palestine's U.N. Move. A report by the International Crisis Group explains: "Much of the effort over the past several months has been geared toward persuading the Palestinians to abandon their UN bid. This was behind the decision to have President Obama include in his May 2011 speech on the Arab Spring a section laying out principles to guide resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By meeting some of the Palestinian demands (notably endorsement of the 1967 borders with mutually agreed territorial swaps), the administration hoped to convince Abbas to drop his bid and resume talks on the basis of the president's speech; at a minimum, it wanted to persuade the EU not to support the Palestinians, by pointing to a better way forward." [International Crisis Group, 9/12/11, emphasis added]

Siegman: U.S. Favoritism Towards Israel Pushed Palestinians To The U.N. Henry Siegman, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Policy, explains in Foreign Policy:

The U.S. might have persuaded President Abbas to abandon the U.N. initiative in favor of resumed negotiations had it reassured him that if the Netanyahu/Lieberman government does not offer them a peace plan within a reasonable period of time based on the 1967 borders, agreed-upon equal territorial swaps and the sharing of Jerusalem, the U.S. would itself present such a plan to the Security Council.

Unfortunately the U.S. lacked the political courage to do so. Instead of enabling President Abbas to withdraw his U.N. initiative by providing him with a justification for such a move, the U.S. has sought to intimidate Palestinian leadership into changing course by threatening to exercise its veto in the Security Council and ending America's financial support for the Palestinian Authority. Leaving aside the perverseness of this threatened "punishment" -- which will not only end Israeli-Palestinian security collaboration but will increase the likelihood of a third Intifada -- when has an American president recently threatened an Israeli government with any kind of punishment for their rejection of U.S. advice, even when Israeli actions have been in clear violation of international law? [Foreign Policy, 9/15/11]

Perry Mischaracterizes Palestinian "Right Of Return" Policy

Perry: Palestinians Seek Full Right Of Return In Order To Destroy The Jewish State. Rick Perry writes in the Jerusalem Post:

The Palestinian leadership's insistence on the so-called 'right of return' of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel's sovereign territory, thereby making Jews an ethnic minority in their own state, is a disturbing sign that the ultimate Palestinian 'solution' remains the destruction of the Jewish state. [Jerusalem Post, 9/15/11]

Palestinian Leaders Support Only "Symbolic" Right Of Return For A Mere Handful Of Refugees. From a January 2011 Al Jazeera report on the Palestine Papers, a cache of internal Palestinian Authority documents:

The Palestine Papers show that Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiators were prepared to make major concessions on the refugees' right of return: on the numbers potentially allowed to return to their homes in what is now Israel; on whether refugees would be able to vote on any peace agreement; and on how many would be able to settle in a future Palestinian state.

In an email Ziyad Clot, a legal adviser to Palestinian negotiators on the refugee file, writes, "President [Mahmoud] Abbas offered an extremely low proposal for the number of returnees to Israel a few weeks only after the start of the process."

The papers also reveal that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed that 1,000 Palestinian refugees be allowed to return annually to Israel over a period of five years - totalling just 5,000, a tiny fraction of those displaced after Israel's creation.

On January 15, 2010, Erekat told US diplomat David Hale that the Palestinians offered Israel the return of "a symbolic number" of refugees.

According to the documents, not only did Palestinian officials offer a low figure of returnees, the chief negotiator of the PLO, Saeb Erekat, said that refugees would not have voting rights on a possible peace deal with Israel. [Al Jazeera, 1/25/11]

Perry Cherry-Picks Historian's Criticism Of Israel To Make It Look Like Praise

Perry Suggest Historian T.R. Fehrenbach Made A Positive Comparison Between Israel And Texas. Rick Perry writes in the Jerusalem Post: "Our nations have developed vital economic and security relationships in an alliance based on shared democratic principles, deep cultural ties and common strategic interests. Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of 'civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies.'" [Jerusalem Post, 9/15/11]

Fehrenbach Was Criticizing Israel's And Texas' "Chauvinism" And "Belligerence." In his book Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans, historian T.R. Fehrenbach wrote: "The Texan's attitudes, his inherent chauvinism and the seeds of his belligerence, sprouted from his conscious effort to take and hold his land. It was the reaction of essentially civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies they despised. The closest 20th-century counterpart is the State of Israel, born in blood in another primordial land." [Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans, pg. 257, via, 9/16/11, emphasis added]

Blumenthal: Fehrenbach Was Making A Negative Comparison Between Texas And Israel. Max Blumenthal writes:

Fehrenbach published an authoritative book on the ethnic cleansing of the Comanche Indians by the Anglo settlers of Texas. He wrote with deep sympathy for the indigenous population, and though he expressed a strong identification with Texan culture, he was harshly critical of the settlers' cruely toward the native population. [...]

Fehrenbach would have agreed with Perry that Texas shared values with Israel. But unlike Perry, he thought that those values were all the wrong ones: hatred of the other, a reliance on violence to seize land, and a legacy of ethnic cleansing. According to Fehrenbach, what Israel did to the Palestinians in 1947 and '48 - and continues to do - is analogous to the Texans' treatment of the Comanches and Mexicans during the 19th century. The comparison highlights Israel's distinction as the world's last settler-colonial state; a country based on an anachronistic system of ethnic exclusivism. [, 9/16/11]