Israel was mentioned 31 times by the presidential candidates in last night’s foreign policy debate, according to my count of the transcript. Obama mentioned Israel 17 times, Romney mentioned the country 14 times.
And of course Palestine was only mentioned once in passing, by Romney, at the end of the excerpts below. He referred to Palestinians.
Global warming was never mentioned. The two state solution was never mentioned.
I apologize to readers for underestimating the importance of the Israel lobby in our politics. Here’s the count:
what I’ve done throughout my presidency and will continue to do, is, number one, make sure that these countries are supporting our counterterrorism efforts; number two, make sure that they are standing by our interests in Israel’s security, because it is a true friend and our greatest ally in the region.
And so everything we’re doing, we’re doing in consultation with our partners in the region, including Israel, which obviously has a huge interest in seeing what happens in Syria,
Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally Israel.
We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies and particularly with — with — with Israel.
They have to abide by their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels.
We have to also stand by our allies. I think the tension that existed between Israel and the United States was very unfortunate.
And, Governor Romney, our alliances have never been stronger. In Asia, in Europe, in Africa, with Israel where we have unprecedented military and intelligence cooperation, including dealing with the Iranian threat.
Well, first of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I’ve made that clear throughout my presidency. And —
MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying we’ve already made that declaration?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week.
And the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security and it’s threat to Israel’s national security.
And they have said that they want to see Israel wiped off the map.
when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And — and if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily. That’s number one.
crippling sanctions are something I’d called for five years ago when I was in Israel speaking at the Herzliya Conference.
And I’ve been very clear to them, you know, because of the intelligence coordination that we do with a range of countries, including Israel, we have a sense of when they would get breakout capacity,
And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel that — that they noticed that as well.
by way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel.
And when I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors, I didn’t attend fundraisers, I went to Yad Vashem, the — the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the — the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.
And then I went down to the border towns of Sderot, which had experienced missiles raining down from Hamas. And I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of — of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an Iron Dome program to stop those missiles.
So that’s how I’ve used my travels when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region
Our relationship with Israel, my relationship with the prime minister of Israel is such that we would not get a call saying our bombers are on the way or their fighters are on the way. This is the kind of thing that would have been discussed and thoroughly evaluated well before that kind of action.
I think it ought to be, in part because of the — the — the turmoil with Israel. I mean, the president received a letter from 38 Democrat senators saying the tensions with Israel were a real problem.
Is — are Israel and the Palestinians closer to — to reaching a peace agreement? No, they haven’t had talks in two years.