Israel re-enters focus ahead of Romney trip
July 22nd, 2012
04:26 PM ET
6 years ago

Israel re-enters focus ahead of Romney trip

(CNN) - America's relationship with Israel, always reliable for campaign rhetoric, will come under renewed examination this week when presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney heads to the country as part of his foreign swing.

The visit to Israel will present an opportunity and a challenge for Romney, who has consistently expressed support for the country but has not yet outlined specific plans for key issues in the region, including negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians and dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

Advisers to the candidate said last week the trip would not be used to advance any new proclamations of policy or criticize President Barack Obama for his dealings with Israel, but rather to showcase a "locking of arms" with Israeli leaders.

Romney's campaign hopes that show of support will play well among Jewish voters in the United States, as well as pro-Israel evangelicals who Romney struggled to court during the GOP primaries. And while Romney's campaign said the candidate will not draw explicit contrasts between his positions and Obama's while abroad, his presence in Israel will draw attention to Obama's sometimes-shaky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Romney will meet.

The former Massachusetts governor, who last traveled to Israel in January 2011, has had a long relationship with Netanyahu since they worked together at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s.

On Sunday, Netanyahu said he would greet Romney in much the same style as he greeted Obama when he traveled to Israel as a candidate in July 2008.

"I'll tell him about Israel's desire for peace, and also about Israel's concern with the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons, unfortunately, still with us four years later," Netanyahu said on CBS.

On Fox News, the Israeli prime minister said Obama's past statements on Israel largely aligned with his own views, but that actions, not words, were of greater importance.

"The jury is out on all of us, because the real thing, the real question is not stated policy but actual results on the ground," Netanyahu said.

One of Romney's top surrogates on Sunday declared U.S.-Israel relations at their worst under Obama, citing decisions that he said destroyed trust between the two nations.

"Everybody knows that relations with Israel have never been worse, beginning with the demands for a freeze settlement back at the beginning of the Obama administration," Arizona Sen. John McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union."

He continued, telling CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley: "The president sends his national security adviser and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Israel to tell them not to attack Iran, thereby weakening Israel. The relations have never been worse. And, again, it is a lack of trust on the part of the Israelis about what the United States of America will or will not do."

The tough words from McCain are hardly new for the Romney campaign. The candidate himself said at a Republican presidential debate in January that Obama "threw Israel under the bus" for suggesting a future Palestinian state be based on borders that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.

"I think he has time and time again shown distance from Israel, and that has created, in my view, a greater sense of aggression on the part of the Palestinians. I will stand with our friend, Israel," Romney said at the CNN sponsored debate.

Since then, however, Romney has spoken only in broad strokes about a plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, saying on his website that he would "reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians." He also writes he would reduce U.S. assistance to the Palestinians if they form a government that includes Hamas, the Islamist militant group.

On Iran, Romney has used tough language, but has yet to say definitely whether he would use the U.S. military to try and stop the country's nuclear program. Western powers fear that Iran may be trying to build nuclear weapons despite its insistence that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Romney hit Obama's record on Iran at an evangelical Christian conference in June, saying, "He's almost sounded like he's more frightened that Israel might take military action than he's concerned that Iran might become nuclear."

The tough rhetoric from Romney drew a response from Obama's re-election team, which issued a statement listing important steps taken by the Obama administration to bolster relations with Israel while slamming the Republican candidate for attempting to "score cheap political points by distorting President Obama's record of support for Israel."

"Our relationship with Israel is too important for Gov. Romney to play politics with it," Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt wrote.

Filed under: 2012 • Iran • Israel • Mitt Romney
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. trex

    ........What do ya think the countries of the middle east think will happen if Romney wins?.........................

    July 22, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. gg

    if isreal rejects him, he,s finished

    July 22, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. DorisV

    Hope he has fun if Israel starts a little "war" with Iran while he is there. The gods help us if he gets elected. Sounds like he will start WWIII.

    July 22, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Vana Nguyen

    He's seeking approval from his master.

    July 22, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. 333maxwell

    Get real....

    The Governor is only going to be there a handful of hours and with the speaking engagement and then lavish fundraiser right after, I doubt there is going to be much time for idle chit chat in between all that making overseas money to fatten the Golden Calf back home.

    July 22, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Abeslom

    Romeny has much foreing policy experience as Pailn did back in 2008

    July 22, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. n

    Tell Romney to keep his hands in his pockets and don't touch anything. President Obama is on the job and is doing a very good job on foreign policy, no thanks to the right wing disaster bunch!

    July 22, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. Darryl

    Mitt Romney better NOT down play the POTUS on this one. It's people like him and Newt Gengrich shooting off their big fat mouth that could start another war. Isreal needs solutions not Political Points. Romney has a bad habbit of shooting off one thing and back tracking to another. This is something he absolutely can NOT do under any sercumstances whats so ever.So he better act like an ADULT & grown-up MAN instead of the High School boy he has been acting like over here in the U.S.

    July 22, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Chris

    Of course being a Mormon he believes Jews settled America before Columbus. Wonder if he will bring this up? Furthermore Mormons have a special agreement with Israel not to Proselytize in return for leasing their University on Mount Scopus overlooking the Mount of Olives which was built on land Israel captured from the Arabs during the 7 day war.

    July 22, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Kaandal

    He's going to fatten his Golden Calf with overseas money, that will be interesting!!!!

    July 22, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. romneycares less

    This is as close as he will get to playing the president. What a sad joke this guy is. A mouth piece for rove,chaney and the koch brothers!
    OBAMA 2012

    July 22, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  12. Sarah/Dumfries,VA

    I don't understand why Israel should allow a mormon on Their soil-the HOLY land,even what Romney's people are saying against Obama before going there is a big SIN

    July 22, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. Rick in Phx

    Good luck to Romney if any conversations he has while in Israel turn to religion. Would love to see the expression on the Israeli leaders faces when Romney explains to them the tenants of the mormon religion as well as the fact that mormons believe Jesus visited north america. He may very well get laughed out of the country.

    July 22, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    The bully bishop doesn't have any plans for anything. We don't need him to meddle in foreign affairs that are none of his business.
    We have an elected President doing his job and a terrific Secretary of State.
    As far as the evangelicals and this flip flopper. The born agains hate him!!! His religion doesn't believe in Jesus and that is the core of their existence!!!

    July 22, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. PJ, TX

    "Our relationship with Israel is too important for Gov. Romney to be playing politics with it".
    That's exactly what Romney is doing. Hope he and Netanyahu remember that we have not hired Romney yet.
    Hopefully, we never will.

    July 22, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Mitt has already said a few months ago he is adopting GWBush Foreign policy of pre-emptive war attack. He also said at the same time he supports Israel to attack and enter war with Iran. This is just Mitt cutting a deal with Netanyahu. If Mitt is elected President then the deficit will expand with unjustified war costs. It stirs the war machine that uses war as its product to sell. Young people can join the military in droves and thus the unempolyment rate goes down.

    July 22, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Kathy

    This is pretty funny, since when did Romney have a 'plan' for anything? But his supposedly tough talk from a draft dodger along with his 'boys' that will never serve is the 'talk without the walk'. He is a hollow 1% mouthpiece.

    July 22, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Carlos

    Fund raisng in a foreign country? It's bad enough that he will owe so much in favors to the upper 1% and now he will owe foreign countries favors??? Not a person I want running my country. Will care more about Israel than the American middle class? If he drags us into war will he send his own sons to fight or will he simply get soldiers from the middle class?

    July 22, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  19. NotFooledByDistractions

    Yeah, if I was willard, I'd want to put the focus on Israel and take it off of his fundraisers with the crooks behind the LIBOR scandal too. There's no money too dirty for romney.

    July 22, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  20. LMB

    Obama is simply waiting and waiting for Iran's bombs to start flying. By then it'll be too late to do anything. Great foreign policy (NOT).

    July 22, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Romney hasn't laid out a plan for the U.S. so why would Israel think he has a plan for them, planning starts at home and the only thing Romney has given us is "secrecy", secrecy about his tax returns, secrecy about jobs, secrecy about Bain, secrecy about Swiss and Caymna Island accounts, secreacy about Bermuda investments. Matter of fact, Romney is a secret to everyone because nobody knows who he really is other than he has a horse in the Olympics and he's a Mormon Bishop and heck there's secrecy about the Mormon religion, so who is Romney.

    July 22, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. Chuk

    McCain said: "Everybody knows that relations with Israel have never been worse, beginning with the demands for a freeze settlement back at the beginning of the Obama administration,". McCain, that's because for the US to broker peace, it can't align itself with one of the sides. That's the whole point – neutrality. But in your zeal to play the role of Israel's best friend, you destroy any chance of helping them find peace; since no one else is willing to play that role. In the end, who loses? Israel.
    And besides, what if Israel needs tough love and Israel's best friend doesn't have the backbone to do the right thing? But right wingers are so blinded by trying to please Israeli lobbyists that they are willing to give blankett approval to everything Israel does, even if it's wrong. These people are no friend to Israel.

    July 22, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  23. mike

    Romney is pathetic now hes going to embarass us overseas

    July 22, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  24. bcrunner

    Maybe people can say President Obama could have done more about the economy, which considering that the Republicans did not lift a little finger to help, is doing as good as it can possibly do with everything that's happening in Europe especially. However, to say that Romney would do better when it comes to foreign policy is ridiculous!! OMG!! President Obama got OBL and has killed dozens of top level Al Qeda leaders.... I don't understand how anyone really can questions the presidents foreign policy accomplishments!! They can try... but it won't work.

    July 22, 2012 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. Gurgyl

    Mittens is equal to Sarah Palin on foreign policy experience.

    July 22, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
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