The leading Republican candidates drew from warm to enthusiastic applause and standing ovations from Republican Jewish leaders and activists in DC on Wednesday after accusing President Obama of falling short in his support of Israel.
The Presidential hopefuls addressed the audience one by one at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington on Wednesday, criticizing U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East policy, particularly his record on Israel and Iran. outlining their foreign policy positions and pledging to up support for Israel.
Read full transcript of Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann' remarks here.
Mitt Romney criticized President Obama's Middle east policies, claiming that "Over the last three years President Obama has chastened Israel".
"In his inaugural address to the United Nations, the president chastised Israel but had almost nothing to say about Hamas launching thousands of rockets into Israel's skies. He's publicly proposed that Israel adopt indefensible borders. He's insulted Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. And he's been timid and weak in the face of the existential threat that Israel faces from Iran. These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners, and they're now poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas. And they feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table," he said.
"President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East".
His policy, Romney declared "could not be more different. I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm, as a vital national interest, Israel's existence as a Jewish state. And I want the world to know that the bonds that exist between Israel and the United States are unshakable. I want every country in the region that harbors aggressive designs against Israel to understand that their ambition is futile and that pursuing it will cost them very dearly."
Referring to Iran, Romney said, "I would not meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He should be excluded from diplomatic society. In fact, he should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the genocide convention. And on my watch, Iran's ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear-armed Iran is not only a threat to Israel; it's a threat to the entire world. Our friends must never fear that we will not stand by them in an hour of need, and our enemies should never doubt our resolve."
"The Should treat the Iranian diplomats, business people, and leaders like the pariah they are as long as they're pursuing nuclear weaponry."
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in a unscripted speech, spoke about the recent controversial remarks given by US Ammbassador Be to Belgium Howard Gutman,and Defense secratary Leon Panneta
"This is an administration which, frankly, should be firing the ambassador to Belgium, who gave a stunningly anti-Semitic speech, This is an administration which, frankly, should be reprimanding the Secretary of Defense for an insulting performance the other day."
"Panetta is a fine domestic politician, but his speech was outrageous. How about saying to Hamas, give up violence and come to the table? How about saying to the PLO, recognize Israel and come to the table? This one-sided continuing pressure that says it's always Israel's fault, no matter how bad the other side is, has to stop. The fact that Secretary Clinton would talk about discrimination against women in Israel, and then meet with Saudis? " he said.
Gingrich also promised that "in a Gingrich administration, on the opening day, there will be an executive order about two hours after the inaugural address. We will send the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as of that day."
Texas Governor Rick Perry accused the Obama Administration of a "torrent of hostility" toward Israel.
"Israel does not need our President demanding gratitude for being the best friend Israel has ever had while his Secretary of Defense rails that Israel has to “get back to the damn table” with the Palestinians, and his Secretary of State questions the viability of Israel’s democracy, even as his Ambassador to Belgium blames anti-Semitism among Muslims on Israel’s failure to accommodate the Palestinians all of which happened in the last week alone."
"This torrent of hostility towards Israel does not seem to have been coordinated, but rather is the natural expression of this administration’s attitude towards Israel".
Perry also clarified his position over "zeroing out" foreign aid to every foreign country,
let me be clear. Israel is our strategic ally. America long ago ended traditional foreign aid to Israel. Strategic defense aid to Israel will increase under a Perry administration," he said.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann used her speech to paint President Barack Obama as actively weakening the American alliance with Israel. She slamed Obama’s pronouncement that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians should be based around the 1967 borders in the region. That caused tension between the U.S. and Israel, Bachmann said, and it “emboldened the Palestinians to seek statehood at the U.N.”
ffollowing Romney's announcement, Bachmann also pledged that her first maiden trip would be to Israel to meet with its prime minister and to speak to the Knesset.
“A Bachmann administration" she promised, "will recognize that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, a vibrant democracy and America’s staunch ally. My administration will fully recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, and will be the first administration to finally implement the laws passed by Congress requiring the State Department to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. My administration will also recognize Israel’s 1980 annexation of the Golan Heights and any settlements, which Israel, as a sovereign state, chooses to annex. Simply put, my administration will accord Israel the respect to which sovereign, democratic nations are entitled."
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum said, "We have to make it very clear to Iran that the United States - the United States, I didn't say Israel, because it's in our security interest - will stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, period. We cannot sit and hope to contain Iran. We need to say very clearly that we will be conducting covert activity to do everything we can to stop their nuclear program."
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said that, for him, "All options are on the table. And it means that when Israel strikes up that conversation, as I believe they will, you better be prepared to remember and put in place what that relationship and what that alliance actually means."