The Times West Virginian

World News

July 29, 2012

Warm reception expected as Romney lands in Israel

JERUSALEM — Mitt Romney’s support for Israel will likely earn the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee a warm welcome from Israeli leaders when he meets with them Sunday — and a frosty reception from Palestinians, who fear he would do little to advance their stalled statehood dreams.

Romney, who hopes to defeat Democratic President Barak Obama in the November general election, touched down in Tel Aviv on Saturday night 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 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.

Romney told the Israeli daily Haaretz before his arrival that Washington’s commitments to Israel should be “as clear as humanly possible” given the changes in the region.

“When Israel feels less secure in the neighborhood, it should feel more secure of the commitment of the United States to its defense.”

With polls showing a close race, Romney hopes this showcase for his pro-Israel stance will help him to woo votes from traditionally Democratic Jewish voters and evangelical Christians who zealously defend Israeli government policy. Obama has not visited Israel since he became president.

The Gallup polling organization reported Friday that Obama’s standing stood at 68 percent among Jews, while 25 percent favored Romney.

Romney already has stumbled in his first international swing as presidential contender by suggesting that British officials might not be prepared to pull off a successful Olympics. In an interview with NBC News, he called London’s problems with games preparation “disconcerting,” and the remark sparked sharp responses from Britain’s top officials. Romney attended swimming events in London on Saturday morning ahead of his planned flight to Tel Aviv.

In Israel, Romney will be meeting with Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, President Shimon Peres and Israeli opposition leaders.

He will not see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Abbas aide Nimr Hamad said, though he will be sitting down with the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, in Jerusalem. The Romney campaign said the likely Republican Party nominee only had time in his schedule to meet with one Palestinian leader and that Fayyad has an existing relationship with Romney. The Abbas camp did not offer an explanation for why no meeting was planned.

Romney’s relationship with the U.S.-educated Netanyahu dates back decades, when they briefly overlapped in the 1970s at Boston Consulting Group, and the two men share conservative outlooks. A Romney bankroller, Sheldon Adelson, is financing a free Israeli newspaper that reflects Netanyahu’s views.

Netanyahu has refused to endorse either presidential candidate, although his ties with Obama have been fraught.

“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,” he said when asked about the visit last Sunday on Fox News. “We extend bipartisan hospitality to both Democrats and Republicans.”

Romney — like most politicians who make the trek to Israel — is likely to face questions such as whether he would endorse calls by some fellow Republicans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and his stance on Israeli calls for Washington to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Romney has consistently accused Obama of putting too much pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and of being too weak on Iran. He says he wants to present a clearer military threat to the Islamic Republic, with a stronger naval presence in the Gulf. Tehran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons.

At a war veterans’ convention in Nevada this week, Romney accused Obama of being “fond of lecturing Israel’s leaders.”

“He has undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was,” Romney said. The “people of Israel deserve better than what they have received from the leader of the free world.”

Obama rejects the criticism and points to unprecedented security cooperation with the Jewish state.

Three years after he came into office with Israeli-Palestinian peace at the top of his foreign policy priorities, Obama recently acknowledged that his efforts there have failed. Peace talks have been deadlocked more than three years.

Obama, who tried to persuade the Arab world that he was an honest broker, lost the Palestinians’ trust by refusing to follow up tough talk with action when Israel defied his call to halt settlement construction on occupied land Palestinians seek for a future state.

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has refused to resume negotiations without a settlement construction freeze and went ahead with a statehood campaign at the United Nations, over the president’s objections.

Palestinians fear Romney would be softer on Israel than Obama. Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi said that would doom any chance for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establishing a Palestinian state on lands Israel captured in the 1967 war.

“American foreign policy in the region is shaped by Israel and determined by what’s good for Israel, and not even what’s good for the U.S.,” Ashrawi complained.

Romney “will probably try to take it a notch higher,” she said, and if the U.S. refuses to put any pressure on Israel, “then there’s no chance for peace.”

Obama’s tense relations with Netanyahu have created the perception that U.S.-Israeli relations have deteriorated. During one of Netanyahu’s White House visits, Obama extended none of the trappings, like a joint news conference, usually accorded to an important ally.

1
Text Only
World News
  • Hamas resumes rocket fire on Israel

    Hamas resumed rocket fire Saturday on Israel after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a humanitarian cease-fire, the latest setback in international efforts to negotiate an end to the Gaza war.
    Despite the Hamas rejection, Israel’s Cabinet decided to extend a truce for 24 hours, until midnight (2100 GMT) Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull; truce stalled

    Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014

  • U.N. school in Gaza in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 25, 2014

  • Two more planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysian jet victims solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead in Taiwan plane crash

    Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island on Thursday where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were searching for one person who might have been in a wrecked house on the ground.

    July 24, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.
    But before inspectors ever reach the scene, doubts arose about whether evidence was being compromised.

    July 20, 2014

  • Without radar, missile may not have identified jet

    If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.
    American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads