GOP candidates Romney, Perry criticize Obama over UN vote

Several GOP presidential candidates are criticizing the White House over a possible UN vote on a Palestinian state.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the expected vote “an unmitigated diplomatic disaster” in a statement on Tuesday, adding his voice to previous criticism from fellow candidates Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.).

Palestinian officials are expected to request that the UN Security Council grant them a sovereign state this week in New York. The Obama administration said it will veto such a request, but would like to avoid the event entirely. A U.S. veto of the Palestinian request would undermine the administration's efforts to reset relationships with an Arab world that has seen several governments collapse this year. 

Romney pushed the administration to take a harder line with the Palestinians and to threaten punishment over a statehood request. 

“[Obama] must make clear that if the Palestinian Authority succeeds in gaining any type of U.N. recognition, the United States will cut foreign assistance to the Palestinians, as well as re-evaluate its funding of U.N. programs and its relationship with any nation voting in favor of recognition,” Romney said.

The Obama administration has defended its record in the Middle East and its efforts to convince the Palestinians to not go forward with their request. Negotiations to avert a vote are likely to continue behind the scenes this week.

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“We believe there needs to be a basis for negotiation and that actions through the U.N. do not create a basis for negotiation,” Ben Rhodes, the president's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said Monday.

But Romney said Obama was guilty of “throwing Israel under the bus” and signaling that the Palestinian Authority did not need to negotiate. Perry blamed a request for an Israeli construction freeze by the administration.

“When the Obama administration demanded a settlement freeze, it led to a freeze in Palestinian negotiations,” Perry wrote in an op-ed for the Jerusalem Post last week. “It was a mistake to agree to the Palestinians’ demand for indirect negotiations conducted through the United States.”

Bachmann blasted a May speech by the president suggesting Israel return to its border lines as drawn before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, a speech Romney also previously condemned.

“The president sent very bad signals,” Bachmann told CNN. “The best thing the president could do would be to stand up with Israel and make it absolutely, unmistakably clear that the United States will stand with Israel and be Israel’s ally.”

The Obama administration has defended its record of support for Israel, which Rhodes said Friday has been “in some instances, unprecedented.”