Texas Gov. Rick Perry is now hinting at a GOP presidential bid
Texas Governor Rick Perry is sending up trial balloons, saying he may run for the GOP nomination for president of the Untied States. But Perry governs a state where a significant number of people are at least talking secession, and he’s given lip service to the idea. How, asks commentator Jonathan Wolfman, can one reconcile a run for the presidency with that?
Wolfman also commented on Friday’s show about South Carolina’s education chief opting his state’s public schools out of a federal contest that could net them millions of dollars, saying that to take that money from the Obama administration would be like taking “30 pieces of silver.”
We also extensively discussed the love-hate relationship of necessity and convenience between the United States and a Pakistan that seems to be on both sides of the terrorism line and the flip-flopping Democrats who, when George W. Bush was president, opposed but now support the Patriot Act.
Thursday’s News Talk Online focused on the large number of people who have announced, or have announced that they will announce, or who are suspected of preparing to announce, that they are running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.
President Obama had a message for the Palestinian leadership Wednesday. Don’t bother going to the United Nations for recognition of a Palestinian state.
Obama, speaking in London during a news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, said that asking the United Nations to unilaterally recognize a state of Palestine as a way to avoid negotiating with Israel will not work.
“The United Nations can achieve a lot of important work,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question.
“What the United Nations is not going to be able to do is deliver a Palestinian state. For the Palestinians to take the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking is a mistake. It does not serve the interests of the Palestinian people. it will not achieve their stated goal of establishing a Palestinian state.”
The newly formed Fatah-Hamas alliance is expected to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN General Assembly in September. Obama said the United States would oppose such efforts, at the UN and elsewhere.
The president reiterated his call for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians instead.
“If they are not talking we’re not going to make any progress,” he declared.
But he said, Hamas, with its current attitude toward Israel, cannot be part of that peace process.
“Hamas, in its own description of its agenda, has not renounced violence and has not recognized the state of Israel,” the president said. “Until they do, it is very difficult to expect Israelis to have a serious conversation.”
Israel is prepared to give up large amounts of land for peace so that a Palestinian state can be created. But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has to first recognize the right of the Jewish state of Israel to exist.
That declaration from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came during an address Tuesday to a joint meeting of Congress.
“President Abbas must do what I have done,” Netanyahu said.
”I stood before my people and I said I will accept a Palestinian state. It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’”
Netanyahu said peace between the Palestinians and Jews will lead to security for both, and both will be able to prosper side-by-side. But there are some conditions.
The biggest may have to do with Jerusalem, which, Netanyahu says, Israel will not permit to be divided. But, he notes, that the Israelis have been the best stewards of a city which has religious significance to three major religions.
“Only a democratic Israel has protected the freedom of worship of all faiths” in Jerusalem he said.
“The only time that Jews, Christians and Muslims could worship freely could have unfettered access to their holy sites” has been when Israel has controlled the city.
“Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel,” he declared. “I know this is a difficult issue for Palestinians but I believe with creativity and good will a soluton can be found.”
Another major stumbling block has to do with Hamas, with whom Israel, Netanyahu said, will not negotiate.
“Hamas is not a partner for peace,” he said.
“Hamas remains committed to Israel’s destruction and terrorism.” And, he noted, the Hamas charter says, “kill the Jews everywhere you find them.”
Israel, Netanyahu said, is ready to negotiate peace with the Palestinian Authority. “But Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda. That we will not do.”
He urged Abbas to, “tear up your pact with Hamas. Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with the Jewish state.”
Netanyahu said if he does, he promises that, “Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so.”
But he warned against the Palestinians continuing along a path of demanding a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state at the UN.
“Peace can only be achieved around the negotiating table,” he said. “Peace cannot be imposed it must be negotiated.”
Another potential stumbling block has to do with what borders might be negotiated. Because of shifting demographics, Israelis now live in large numbers on lands that the Arabs held before the 1967 war. And some land that Israel now holds has strategic value to the Jewish state. Netanyahu was firm in his contention that, while he is ready to give large swaths of land to the Palestinians, ”Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.”
He also was insistent that any Palestinian state be demilitarized to protect Israel from future Arab aggression.
Finally, like the Jews who come to Israel to declare their citizenship, the descendants of Palestinian refugees would be able to go to a new Palestine to live. But not to Israel, Netanyahu said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes it to be a miscalculation to tie the Arab Spring demonstrations throughout the Middle East to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking to the AIPAC national policy conference in Washington, Netanyahu asserted that the demonstrators on the streets of Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and other nations “aren’t thinking of Israel.”
Rather, he said, they are thinking of democracy and freedom.
“They’re yearning for hope for themselves and their children,” he said.
“It’s time to stop blaming Israel for all the region’s problems,” Netanyahu said.
That’s not to say that Israel isn’t interested in a peace with the Palestinians – something he says is “of vital interest for us.” But it is not, he said, a panacea for the endemic problems of the Middle East.
“It will not give women in some Arab countries the right to drive a car,” Netanyahu said.
“It will not prevent churches from being bombed. It will not keep journalists out of jail.”
Only democracy, the prime minister asserted, will change things on the ground in the region. And by democracy, Netanyahu said, he doesn’t just mean elections.
“I mean freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly.” As well, he says, of the rights of women and minorities.
The people of Israel want, Netanyahu said, the people of the Middle East to have what Americans have and what they have in Israel; democracy.
“It’s time to recognize this basic truth,” he said.
“Israel is not what’s wrong with the Middle East. Israel is what’s right about the Middle East.”
And he blamed the Palestinians for the lack of peace with Israel.
“This conflict has lasted a century because of the refusal of the Palestinians to end it,” Netanyahu charged.
“They refuse to accept the Jewish state,” what the conflict, he said, has always been about.
The conflict, he argued can be resolved. But, he added, that can only happen if the Palestinians are “prepared to make peace with the Jewish state.”
Netanyahu said that on Tuesday, during his rare speech to a joint session of Congress, he will describe what a peace between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state would look like. That peace, he said, “must leave Israel with security.”
Which is why, he said, “Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 lines.”
Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, was Monday’s guest on News Talk Online.
Zunes analyzed President Obama’s Middle East policy address at the State Department and his follow up speech to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington. While he felt Obama made some important points about the Arab Spring movement – the desire for democracy in the Muslim world – he criticized the president’s comments about possible peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Zunes feels that Obama’s statement that Israel need not negotiate with any Palestinian entity that includes Hamas, which is bent on the destruction of Israel, gives Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an out to not reach a peace settlement.