Mitt Romney Likely to Get a Warm Welcome in Israel


washingtonpost.com

JERUSALEM — After a verbal stumble in London that offended his British hosts, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney heads to Israel on Saturday, seeking to convince American voters that he is more in tune than President Obama with Israel’s concerns and needs.

Although he can expect a warm reception from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose differences with Obama have been highly publicized, Romney will have to choose his public words here carefully, given the tricky terrain that is Middle Eastern politics.

In an interview published Friday on the front page of Israel’s Haaretz daily, the candidate suggested that, if elected, he would take care to maintain a unified front with Israel.  

“I believe that with regards to our allies, we are always wiser to lock arms and to stand as one for the world to see,” he said. “There will be, of course, times of disagreement and disparity in our respective interests — but those we are best in keeping to ourselves.” Romney’s remark touched on a widespread perception here that the Obama administration has distanced itself, in policy terms, from its key ally in the Middle East. Romney’s apparent goal is to reassure voters back home — particularly American Jewsand pro-Israeli evangelical Christian conservatives who have been wary of backing him — that he will be different.

As well as meeting with Israeli leaders and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Romney plans to hold a fundraiser, the first such event held in Israel for a candidate in a U.S. presidential campaign. 

At $50,000 a couple, the breakfast event at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel is expected to include active American Jewish supporters, some of whom live part time in Israel, as well as local backers. 

Obama received only about a quarter of the votes cast by Americans living in Israel in 2008, according to a post-election survey. That reflected the orientation of many recent immigrants from the United States, who tend to be religiously observant and politically conservative. To those voters, the first-term record of Obama — who visited Israel as a candidate but not while in office — confirmed their early suspicions.

“People here feel that [Obama] has not had the level of warmth toward Israel that most presidents have had,” said Abe Katsman, a Jerusalem attorney who serves as counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.

The complaints of Romney backers here center on positions that have put Washington at odds with Netanyahu: an insistence early in Obama’s term on a freeze on Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; a statement that a peace agreement with the Palestinians should be based on Israel’s 1967 boundaries, with “mutually agreed” land swaps; and an approach to Iran that is seen as not tough enough, engaging in protracted diplomacy while warning Israel against a unilateral military strike.   

“This idea of putting daylight between the U.S. government and Israel — who does that to an ally?” Katsman said. “And why make the disagreement public?”

Netanyahu reacted icily last year to Obama’s call for negotiations with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines, taking Obama to task before television cameras in a meeting at the Oval Office. Administration officials, however, say Obama’s positions on settlements and future borders have been consistent with long-standing U.S. policy.Obama has repeatedly stressed Washington’s “unshakable” commitment to Israel’s security, which has been bolstered by generous defense assistance — including aid for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which has successfully intercepted rockets fired at Israeli cities from the Gaza Strip.

In the Haaretz interview, given in London, Romney hinted at differences with Obama even as he said he would not criticize U.S. policies while abroad. Any comment on the issue of Israeli settlements, he said, “would lead me into waters of showing a distance between me and the president.”

On the issue of a Palestinian state, he asserted that the question “is not whether the people of the region believe that there should be a Palestinian state. The question is if they believe there should be an Israeli state, a Jewish state.”

Netanyahu has long maintained that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state must be part of any peace accord.

On Iran, Romney supporters assert that their candidate is committed to vigorous action to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

But Romney’s statement to Haaretz — that if all other measures fail, a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities “should not be ruled out” and that he is committed “to take every step necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability” — echoed similar statements by Obama.  

In fact, Romney’s stance on Israel is not likely to differ dramatically from the administration’s, said Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science at the  Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“On some very substantive issues, there is very deep cooperation with the Obama administration, and there are Israelis who will tell you that there has never been that kind of cooperation before,” Avineri said.“If Romney will try to distance himself, it will be on Iran and possibly on the settlements, but it will mainly be about atmospherics, just as atmospherics is a major issue between Netanyahu and Obama.”  

Hillel Schenker, vice chair of Democrats Abroad-Israel , agreed. “I haven’t seen any indication of readiness to take any positions which are different from what have been essentially bipartisan Republican and Democratic positions,” he said. “Historically, there has never been a Republican president ready to accept the legitimacy of the settlements, and on Iran he’s saying the same thing Obama is saying. I see a lot of posturing.”

Romney is “trying to do something that is simply not doable,” Schenker said, noting that for decades American Jews have voted heavily for Democratic presidential candidates. “This will not make the difference that he’s looking for.”  

Despite his cool relationship with Obama, Netanyahu has avoided taking sides ahead of Romney’s visit, refusing in recent interviews on two U.S. television networks to be drawn into evaluating the Republican candidate. 

“I will receive Mitt Romney with the same openness that I received another presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama, when he came almost four years ago, almost the same time in the campaign, to Israel,” Netanyahu told “Fox News on Sunday” this week. “We — Israel has — enjoys bipartisan support, both Democrats and Republicans, and we extend bipartisan hospitality to both Democrats and Republicans.”

  1. #1 by Blake on July 28, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    This makes my skin crawl. Just vile.

  2. #2 by Gary on July 28, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    One can only hope he forgets to bring his vasoline.

  3. #3 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 28, 2012 - 3:49 pm

    Obama has sanctioned the Iranian people beyond humane boundaries. What else can this stupid Romney do but bomb Iran? If the Mormon people stand behind this warmongering, I am unable to consider them Christians.

  4. #4 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 28, 2012 - 7:16 pm

    VIDEO: Romney can expect warm Israeli reception

    Mitt Romney’s support for Israel will likely earn the presumptive Republican presidential nominee a warm welcome from Israeli leaders when he visits on Sunday — and a frosty reception from Palestinians, who fear he would do little to advance their stalled statehood dreams. Romney is visiting Israel as part of a three-nation foreign tour that includes Britain and Poland. He hopes it will boost his credentials to direct U.S. national security and diplomacy. The visit to Israel comes at a time when its leaders are weighing a military attack on Iran, the neighboring regime in Syria is looking increasingly shaky and Mideast peace talks are going nowhere. Romney, a longtime friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to play up his critique of President Barack Obama’s posture toward the Jewish state and his handling of Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons ambitions. Israeli political scientist Abraham Diskin says Romney can expect an enthusiastic reception, both because of his solid record of pro-Israel comments — and because he’s not Obama. What interests Israelis is Israel Diskin said. Romney has a very pro-Israel stance. He is very suspicious of the Arab world. Israelis are very suspicious of Obama In an effort to upstage Romney a day before he landed in Israel, the White House announced it was signing Legislation expanding military and civilian cooperation with Israel.

    http://www.vidiov.info/0cb9dc356.html

  5. #5 by on July 28, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    I wonder what Rmoney will say at the King David hotel? Will he praise kosher terrorism?
    If he says nothing, then that would be the obvious endorsement.

    Oh wait, maybe the King David hotel bombing is related to the Burgas bombing, and 9/11!

    God gave the land to white people too, whose right of return is divine and above all others (sic).

  6. #6 by on July 29, 2012 - 9:12 am

    Palestine existed before Moses & will exist after the occupation!

    twitter.com/wishah/status/229323702804828160/photo/1/large?tw_p=twt

  7. #7 by Ingrid B on July 29, 2012 - 9:18 am

    would someone please shove that missile shaped item he`s holding, up his bum..

  8. #8 by ruby22-kate on July 29, 2012 - 3:26 pm

    Mitt is an embarrassment to the USA’s people. His Israeli First attitude borders on treason, imo. The zionist Jews in US & Israel have both presidential candidates twirled around their fingers. This is a win/win for the rogue entity, the only losers are the American people and every other group that resist war on terror, war on drugs, war on homeless, war on hungry children, etc. etc. etc.

    Yes Ingrid if I have an opportunity I’ll cram it up; hope Mitt remembers his knee pads when he visits his bff Netanyahu, someone above mentioned vasoline – Netty won’t use that, he likes it rough & is happiest when some gentile is shrieking in pain. There are excellent medics in isreal with much practice in sewing the anus back in shape.

  9. #9 by Matthew/Boston on July 29, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    Recently released FBI documents reveals Bejamin Netanyahu guilty of serious espionage against America involving theft of nuclear triggering device(s).

    http://original.antiwar.com/smith-grant/2012/07/03/netanyahu-worked-inside-nuclear-smuggling-ring/

  10. #10 by Matthew/Boston on July 29, 2012 - 6:05 pm

    Itamar Gelbman, an Israeli claiming to be an American, loses 6th district congressional race in Texas with 6% of the total votes cast. Thank fate for small miracles.

  11. #11 by Kalki on July 30, 2012 - 2:28 am

    Not relevant to this article but I wanted to post this. I hope this trend continues. :)

    “India bans Russian and Israeli tourists from forming enclaves ”

    The ‘Russians’ in question are of course Russian Jews.

  12. #12 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 12:48 pm

    Mitt Romney takes aim at Iran on visit to Israel

    Warmonger Mormon unites with anti-Christ jews.

  13. #13 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 12:56 pm

    Romney would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

    Mitt Romney says if he’s elected president he would back moving the embassy to Jeruasalem after consulting with Israelis.

  14. #14 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    CNN Weekend Shows : Romney: Secure Israel is in US interest

    Harlot in Israel to become next president?

  15. #15 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 1:43 pm

    Romney outrages Palestinians by saying Jewish culture helps make Israel more successful
    Palestinian leaders are calling Mitt Romney racist and out of touch for saying that Jewish culture helps make Israel more economically successful than its Palestinian neighbors.

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Monday, July 30, 2012, 7:20 AM

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election-2012/romney-outrages-palestinians-jewish-culture-helps-israel-successful-article-1.1124749

  16. #16 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    ‘US would give Israel unilateral support in Iran strike’ – Romney
    30 July, 2012

    Mitt Romney says the US would back an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities under his administration. The US will support “any and all” measures to allay Iranian nuclear ambitions, the presidential candidate stated.

    http://www.rt.com/news/romney-unilateral-military-aid-371/

  17. #17 by Vickie Jacobs on July 30, 2012 - 5:50 pm

    Mitt Romney has made Netanyahyu one of his consorts….his marriage to this one will put him under sooner than he thinks.

  18. #18 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    Panetta and Israel to discuss war plans against Iran?

    30 July, 2012

    http://rt.com/usa/news/panetta-israel-iran-plan-417/

  19. #19 by SazzyLilSmartAzz on July 30, 2012 - 10:52 pm

    Romney raises more than $1M at end of Israel trip

    Some 47 people attend the first ever presidential fundraiser in Israel, at a price of $50,000 per couple.

    http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?ID=279409&R=R1&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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