Mitt Romney promised to visit Israel in first foreign visit after inaugurated as the 45th President. Yet, it looks like Romney has decided to follow the advice of various Jewish groups, that have called on the Republican nominee to visit Israel during the election season, which would be a boost to the US-Israel relationship, and would help Romney with the Jewish vote.
Romney is expected to visit Israel this summer and meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the NYT reports.
"Mr. Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; President Shimon Peres of Israel; the American ambassador, Daniel B. Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem. He plans to have at least one public event in a trip that will likely last less than two days.“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” said Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser, who worked with Republicans in the United States before immigrating here. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”For Mr. Romney, the trip is an opportunity to appeal both to Jewish voters and donors, whose overwhelming support of President Obama has softened, according to some polls, and to evangelical Christians, whose trust he is still fighting to win. At the March conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby known as Aipac, Mr. Romney vowed that Israel would be the destination of his first foreign trip as president, underscoring the fact that Mr. Obama has not visited here since his election, a sore spot among some Israel supporters.While the visit could distract from the Republicans’ main line of attack against Mr. Obama, the economy, it is an opportunity for Mr. Romney, who as a former governor has little foreign policy experience, to play the statesman.He has repeatedly tried to paint himself as a closer friend of Israel than the president, who he has accused of “throwing Israel under the bus,” and as more hawkish on the Iranian nuclear program, which Israel sees as an existential threat.“I understand that in Israel, geography is security,” Mr. Romney said via satellite at the Aipac conference in March, drawing applause by promising to “never call for a return to the indefensible” borders before the 1967 war in which Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank.He also said that the Obama administration had “visibly warmed to the Palestinian cause,” and that he believed “Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state is a vital national interest of the United States.”In a statement, Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said: “Governor Romney has said he would do the opposite of what President Obama in our relations with Israel. Now he must specify how — does that mean he would reverse President Obama’s policies of sending Israel the largest security assistance packages in history? Does it mean he would let Israel stand alone at the United Nations, or that he would stop funding the Iron Dome system? Does it mean he would abandon the coalition working together to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions?”Mr. Dermer said the men would probably meet over a meal at the prime minister’s residence, though details have not yet been decided.“The prime minister meets Democratic and Republican officials alike,” he said. “I’m sure they want to broadcast a very strong relationship with Israel, and Israel wants to broadcast a very strong bipartisan relationship with both sides of the aisle.”