Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has proposed full U.N. membership for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders, carved out of Israel and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Asked at Thursday's Repub presidential debate about this unilateral declaration, Herman Cain, who by now must be in the latter half of his fifteen minutes of fame, responded
It starts with an extension of the Reagan philosophy of peace through strength. My philosophy would extend that to peace through strength and clarity. This administration has not made it clear how it stands with Israel.
When I was in Israel last month, I met with the deputy prime minister. And he made it shockingly, chillingly clear that, given everything that's going on, number one, Israel will defend itself, with all of the tensions going on in the Middle East.
And he also made it real clear that he wasn't sure how this administration stood when it came to Israel. I made it clear, which -- and I would also make it clear to all of -- our -- the other people in the world, that if you mess with Israel, you're messing with the United States of America. We will stand solidly behind Israel.
If in fact it was clear to the Palestinians, where the United States stood, they might have had second thoughts about trying to pull such a move without negotiating with Israel.
Asked a more general question about U.S. policy toward Israel, 2012 nominee Mitt Romney commented "You start off by saying that you don't allow an inch of space to exist between you and your friends and your allies." Previously, the ex-governor charged, the President "threw Israel under the bus." (It's getting very crowded under that bus. Or at least it must be. Is it a school bus or a city bus- and does anyone know where it is now?)
Apparently, they haven't been keeping up with the news:
Netanyahu thanked Obama "for standing with Israel and supporting peace through direct negotiations," and said: "We both agree that Palestinians and Israelis should sit down and negotiate an agreement of mutual recognition and security. I think this is the only way to get to a stable and durable peace."
"I think the Palestinians want to achieve a state through the international community, but they're not prepared yet to give peace to Israel in return," the Israeli PM said. He hoped other world leaders follow Obama's lead in opposing the Palestinian effort "to shortcut" the peace negotiations.
So far, no other leader has done so. Some pundits have argued that Obama is doing so with an eye toward the next presidential election, hoping to regain support among American Jews. For whatever reason, the President in New York is doing the courageous thing, and the right thing.
The Israeli prime minister probably was uncertain until recently how the Obama Administration stood with regard to Israel. Although the Administration has stood alone by standing up for Israel at the U.N. and in condemning the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, Tel Aviv may not know what Barack Obama really thinks. But his actions have been wise and strong. If even one of the GOP presidential candidates were as forthcoming as their hero, Bibi Netanyahu, he, or she, would acknowledge it.