After President Obama's moving UN General Assembly speech that started with a story of who U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens had been in terms of his life's passion for the Middle East and North Africa, the Romney camp issued a statement from former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky:
In his speech, President Obama listed the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, Syria, and Iran as major challenges facing the international community. But those are three vital issues on which President Obama has unfortunately made no progress. The Peace Process is at a standstill, tens of thousands have been killed in Syria with Assad still in power, and Iran is hurtling toward nuclear weapons capability.The president and his national security team do deserve criticism for how some of these portfolios have been managed. After all, Israel/Palestine had been the first major national security agenda item the president put his power and credibility behind, appointing former Senator George Mitchell to be his Envoy in seeking to secure real Middle East peace.
In his 2009 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama called for progress on the Peace Process and for an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program. Three years later, he's failed to deliver. As has too often been the case with President Obama, the rhetoric doesn't match the policy.
One thing is clear: The years from 2005 to 2012 have been seven decidedly lean ones for peacemaking and withdrawal and seven gluttonously fat ones for entrenching Israel's occupation and settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In these areas, almost 94,000 new settlers have been added since 2005, some settler outposts have been legalized and thousands of Palestinians have been displaced.Obama should only get the blame for the 2009-2012 part of this portfolio -- but the failure to get Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on to a credible peace track with Palestinians has enormous strategic consequences for the country.
Work has to be at the heart of our efforts to help people build economies that can create jobs, young and old alike. Work builds self-esteem. It transforms minds from fantasy and fanaticism to reality and grounding. Work does not long tolerate corruption nor will it quietly endure the brazen theft by government of the product of hard-working men and women. To foster work and enterprise in the Middle East and other developing countries I will initiate something I will call Prosperity Pacts, working with the private sector the program will identify the barriers to investment and trade and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. And, in exchange for removing those barriers and opening their markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law, and property rights ....Whether Romney is right or not, his jobs talk and the notion of "Prosperity Pacts" are a step ahead of the rhetoric that typecasts instability in the Middle East as a function of Islamic culture and fanaticism. And the fact is that the Obama administration's policy towards places like Egypt and Palestine, Tunisia, and Libya is to try to lay groundwork for investment, aid, and jobs.
The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work, and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America's own economy, and that is that free people pursuing happiness in their own ways, build a strong and prosperous nation.
Notwithstanding Romney's significant errors on the GDP gap between Israel and Palestine, it's outrageous to assess Palestine's economic potential without considering that all they have done has been done under Occupation, with barriers to travel and commerce embedded throughout their territory which Israel occupies and dominates, often brutally.
"Culture makes all the difference," Mr. Romney said. "And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things."
He added, "As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States."
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