Romney expects welcome in Israel but Obama rates higher in Jewish poll
MITT Romney is hoping to put his gaffe-strewn visit to London behind him when he arrives in Israel today on the second leg of his foreign tour.
The Republican presidential hopeful can at least expect a warm welcome from Israeli leaders, although he faces a frosty reception from Palestinians who fear he would do little to advance their stalled statehood dreams.
Romney had hoped his visit overseas would boost his credentials to direct US national security and diplomacy as he campaigns to defeat President Barack Obama in the November general election.
But he stumbled in his first international swing as presidential contender by suggesting 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”.
His visit to Israel comes at a time when its leaders are weighing a military attack on Iran, the neighbouring regime in Syria is looking increasingly shaky and Middle East peace talks are going nowhere.
Romney, a long-time 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 handling of Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.
Israeli political scientist Abraham Diskin said Romney can expect an “enthusiastic” reception, 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 co-operation with Israel.
Still, with polls showing a close race, Romney hopes this showcase for his pro-Israel stance will help him woo votes from among traditionally Democratic Jews and evangelical Christians who zealously defend Israeli government policy. Obama has not visited Israel since becoming president.
However, Gallup said on Friday that Obama’s standing stood at 68 per cent among Jews, while 25 per cent favoured Romney.
In Israel, Romney will meet Netanyahu, Defence 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 camp said there was time to meet only one Palestinian leader and that Fayyad has an existing relationship with Romney.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North east