NEW YORK -- Attempting to strengthen his foreign policy chops, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) waded into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday, giving a speech that sharply criticized President Obama's policy on the issue.
The United Nations General Assembly is meeting in New York City this week, where Palestinians will be asking the world for statehood independent of Israel.
Speaking at the W Hotel in New York against a backdrop of U.S. and Israeli flags on Monday morning, Perry said the United States should stop funding the U.N. if it votes with the Palestinians.
"I think there are a number of things if the U.N. does in fact vote to allow statehood in direct conflict with the Oslo Accords," said Perry. "One of those is obviously having the United States send a clear message to the U.N. that we're not going to support you with our dollars anymore -- obviously shutting down that mission in Washington, D.C. I think the message needs to be swift, and it needs to be powerful."
The GOP presidential frontrunner was joined by newly elected Rep. Bob Turner (R-N.Y.) and members of New York's Orthodox Jewish community, including Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn who has been highly critical of the Obama administration and bragged at the event about having helped to elect Turner.
Also speaking at the event was Danny Danon, a member of the Israeli Knesset who was criticized after inviting right-wing pundit Glenn Beck to address the legislative body. Danon also headlined Ralph Reed's conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. in June.
"Simply put, we would not be here today at the precipice of such a dangerous move if the Obama policy in the Middle East wasn't naive, arrogant, misguided and dangerous," Perry said.
"It must be said, first, that Israel is our oldest and strongest democratic ally in the Middle East and has been for more than 60 years. The Obama policy of moral equivalency which gives equal standing to the grievances of Israelis and Palestinians, including the orchestrators of terrorism, is a dangerous insult."
The Obama administration, however, has also been warning U.N. members to oppose the Palestinian bid for statehood and has mounted an aggressive campaign in the lead-up to the vote.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has argued that U.N. action would complicate a peaceful end to the conflict, saying, "We believe strongly that the road to peace and two states living side by side does not go through New York, it goes through Jerusalem and Ramallah."
At the start of his speech, Perry gave a shout out to Turner, who just won the special election for Anthony Weiner's former seat -- which had been in Democratic hands since the 1920s -- by appealing to the district's socially conservative Jewish voters.
"It's always a great joy to introduce a person that you admire by what they have accomplished, and your newest congressman fits that bill -- Bob Turner," said Perry. "He is obviously a leading voice on this issue that we are speaking about today."
Turner, however, told reporters afterward that he was not yet committed to Perry or any other presidential candidate, saying, "I'm absolutely supporting the winner of the Republican primary."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, also put out a statement before Perry's speech calling the situation at the U.N. this week an "unmitigated disaster." He said the Obama administration has made "repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus and undermine its negotiating position."
Tuesday's speech was certainly meant to give Perry some increased credibility on foreign policy.
On Sept. 15, Perry wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying that the United States must support Israel at the United Nations.
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for The Washington Post, praised the substance of the piece but said that "Perry almost certainly didn't write it" because "his own foreign policy views are rudimentary."