Romney to seek Netanyahu's approval in Israel visit

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will travel to Israel in late July in a bid to win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's backing for his US presidential campaign.

Romney will be overseas in late July to attend the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in London. His campaign often promotes Romney's leadership of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 as a key part of his biography as he tries to unseat President Barack Obama in the November 6 election.

A former governor of Massachusetts, Romney lacks foreign policy experience. He would like to attract support from Jewish voters, who number only roughly 2 percent of the population, and has accused Obama of putting the US relationship with Israel at risk in pushing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

Despite being a tiny minority in the US, the American pro-Israel lobby is one of the strongest political lobbies in the country, and winning Israeli blessing is seen as a necessity to secure office.

A campaign aide said Romney would meet with Netanyahu on his visit. The New York Times said Romney would also meet Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli President Shimon Peres, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem.

Romney sought to up in Obama in the pro-Israel race, even if his positions undermine US interests in the Middle East.

The hawk candidate said in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in December that Obama has proposed that Israel adopt "indefensible borders" and had been "timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear war" from Iran.

Netanyahu and Obama have had a thorny relationship and the right-wing Israeli leader has come under pressure in Washington not to take unilateral military action against Iranian nuclear facilities suspected of being part of a project to produce nuclear weapons.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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