WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. presidential frontrunner Rick Perry on Friday accused President Barack Obama of distancing himself from Israel and blamed U.S. foreign policy “errors” for a Palestinian push for statehood at the United Nations.

 

Seeking to capitalize on this week’s Republican election victory in a heavily Jewish New York congressional district, Perry said Palestinian leaders believe U.S.-Israeli relations have weakened and alleged that “the ultimate Palestinian solution” remains the destruction of the Jewish state.

“Errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians,” the Texas governor wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece.

“It was a mistake to agree to the Palestinians’ demand for indirect negotiations conducted through the U.S., and it was an even greater mistake for President Obama to distance himself from Israel and seek engagement with the hostile regimes in Syria and Iran.”

Palestinian leaders are threatening to defy the United States and push for full membership at the United Nations next week, a move that would deliver a serious blow to U.S. influence in the region.

The United States has warned that such an attempt would damage chances of reviving talks and sent envoys to the region this week to lobby the Palestinians.

Washington has vowed to veto the Palestinian move and is threatening to cut the roughly $500 million in annual U.S. aid to the Palestinians. Israel on Thursday urged the international community to maintain assistance.

Perry endorsed the veto plan but called on the administration to make U.S. aid to the Palestinians conditional on their willingness to negotiate with Israel.

Jewish concerns about Obama’s policies toward Israel helped Republicans win a Democratic congressional district in New York this week for the first time in more than 80 years.

In a potential harbinger of the national Jewish vote in 2012, analysts said many voters in the district believe Obama has failed to support Israel and object to his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to use the Jewish state’s pre-1967 borders as a starting point.

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