"Rick Perry: Israeli Settlements Are Legal ‘And I Support Them’"
Republican Presidential hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry broke with more than 40 years of bipartisan U.S. policy and issued a statement of blanket support for Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Perry also broke with more than 60 years of U.S. policy and declared that, among his first acts as president, he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Perry about the topics during an interview:
BLITZER: Since ’67, every U.S. president, Democrat and Republican, have called Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories, in the West Bank, illegal under international law. Would you continue that activity?
PERRY: …No I wouldn’t. I consider the Israeli settlements to be legal, from my perspective, and I support them.
BLITZER: Even if they’re in the West Bank?
PERRY: Where there is arrangements that have been made, where the Israeli’s are clearly on Israel’s land that they have hard fought to win and to keep, absolutely.
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It’s not the first time Perry has endorsed the settlements. In September, he said Israel should build more. His views put Perry out of step with every administration from both parties since the occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, who unanimously viewed the settlements as a violation of the Geneva Conventions’ provisions against moving civilians into occupied territories.
Blitzer also asked if Perry would move the U.S. embassy in Israel, which is currently located in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem. “Absolutely,” replied Perry. “As soon as I could. I would clearly say, if you want to work for the State Department of the United States, you need to be packing your bags and move to Jerusalem as soon as you can.”
The CNN host accurately pointed out that, since 1948, no administration has agreed to move the embassy. In 1995, Congress passed a law forcing the embassy move, but every president since then has exercised a waiver to keep the mission in Tel Aviv. Palestinians want to have East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, as the capital of their future state — a move that could be imperiled by the presence of an embassy in the city, which is technically internationalized according to international law. The embassy’s presence would be tantamount to recognizing Israel’s disputed sovereignty over all of Jerusalem.
Another GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, also said he would move the embassy. At that time, ThinkProgress interviewed Jerusalem expert Daniel Siedemann, who expounded on the pitfalls of moving the embassy:
Were an American President be actually so irresponsible as to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem outside of the context of a comprehensive permanent status agreement, such a President would contribute nothing to legitimizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Instead he would be following Israel into abject isolation, and the United States into an weakened and marginal regional and global role.
When Blitzer pointed out that all presidents had avoided the move, Perry responded, “There may not have been a president of the United States that feels as strongly about Israel as I do.” In the past, Perry has said, “My faith requires me to support Israel.”