From Special Report All-Star Panel Wednesday, December 7, 2011
On Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s recent comments on the Mid-East peace process:
It was a statement made over the weekend, and you can be sure it was approved, every word of it, by the White House. It was a very strong attack on Israel, blaming [it] essentially for the absence of a peace process. In fact he said that Israel has to “get itself to the damn table,” meaning, negotiating table.
This is egregious. This is really blaming the victim. The Israeli government has accepted a Palestinian state for the first time in the history of the Likud. It agreed to an unprecedented 10-month moratorium on settlement construction. And in fact, the Palestinian president waited nine of those months before he attended, then walked out and he hasn’t returned.
The Israelis have been ready for unconditional negotiations. And Abbas, the president of the Palestinians, put up all kind of conditions and refused to go to the table, and said openly in an interview with the Washington Post two years ago [that] he wouldn’t lift a finger or make any concessions whatsoever to Israel because Obama… will deliver Israel.
So for the secretary of defense to say the process is dead because of Israel is egregious. It’s kind of Orwellian. And it tells you about the animus and the hostility of this administration which the Israelis are feeling.
I would just add one word on the demographics. Everybody… thinks: “Israel” and [therefore] “Jews.” But 98 percent of pro-Israeli Americans are gentile. It’s a very strong, important issue among the evangelical Christians. The association [of Israel] only with Jews is missing a very large story here.
On Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit and the diplomatic fallout from the administration’s decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline:
The Canadian prime minister was extremely soft spoken. He spoke like a friend. He didn’t in any way criticize the president. But that is because Canadians are nice.
I know that. I grew up in Canada — extremely nice: the Mounties, the beavers, the Maple leafs, the loonies.
But the Canadians are not stupid. The foreign minister who was here today said if you have a store, you want to have a lot of customers — meaning if the United States is not going to accept a gift, a secure source of oil from a friendly ally and really a strategic asset, which will incidentally create a lot of jobs, if it doesn’t want the Alberta shale oil, they will build it [the pipeline] west and China will have access to it.
And I think they are serious about that. They are deeply upset about what was purely a political decision on the part of Obama. This idea he had a process and has to dot the i’s and cross t’s is rubbish. The pipeline was the most studied pipeline in the history of American pipelines. A three-year study by the State Department which found in two very large reports no serious damage or [environmental] danger..
And yet Obama overrode that. Why? Simply because he didn’t want to anger his base. And so he punted it to 2013.
I can assure you that the Canadians are not happy about that. And we could in the end forfeit a huge source of jobs, energy, security, and a really important strategic asset as a result.…
Obama has a talent for alienating and injuring friends, allies — Canada, Israel, the British — and appeasing enemies. And I think it’s a pattern the Republicans ought to seize, explain, and run on.