NEW YORK - Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and their Republican presidential rivals on Tuesday slammed President Obama's Middle East policies while emphatically declaring their own support for Israel as the United Nations considered a bid for Palestinian statehood.
Republican front-runner Perry, the Texas governor, denounced the president's Israel policy as "misguided and dangerous," speaking to supporters in New York as the Obama administration worked a few miles away to thwart a U.N. vote to grant formal recognition to the Palestinians.
Perry accused Obama of appeasement, as did Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who assailed the president from the Midwest.
Perry's chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, issued a statement accusing Obama of "throwing Israel under the bus."
The Republican campaigns have similar goals: establish contrasts with Obama on an issue where he's struggled, chip away at American Jews' support for Democrats and prove their pro-Israel bona fides with the evangelical voters who will play a significant role in the GOP primaries.
During the 2008 election campaign, Obama worked hard to reassure nervous Jewish voters that he would defend Israel as president. But he's faced doubts and criticism since then.
Perry criticized Obama's stated goal that any negotiations should be based on Israel's borders before the 1967 Six-Day War with mutually agreed adjustments and land swaps to accommodate population shifts and some homebuilding since 1967. Perry called that stance "insulting and naive."
Obama angered Israel earlier this year by endorsing a Palestinian demand that negotiations over future borders begin with the lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in 1967.
"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 told a group of ultraconservative Jewish and Israeli leaders meeting at a New York hotel. "The Obama administration has appeased the Arab Street at the expense of our own national security interests. They have sowed instability that threatens the prospect of peace."
Said Romney: "What we are watching unfold at the United Nations is an unmitigated diplomatic disaster. It is the culmination of President Obama's repeated efforts over three years to undermine its negotiating position."
He called for an end to U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority if the U.N. vote went the Palestinians' way.
Bachmann called on Obama to prevent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from coming to the United Nations.
"Ahmadinejad has shown himself to be an enemy not only of Israel but also of the United States," she said. "This administration tried and failed to do outreach to Iran, reminding us once again that appeasement of deadly dictators is never a wise or effective strategy."