Daily Israel Report

Romney: I'll Visit Israel First if Elected

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney plans to tell Jewish Republicans: If I'm elected, my first foreign trip will be to Israel.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/7/2011, 6:12 AM

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is promising to bolster the United States’ ties with Israel if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee.

According to a report on Tuesday by the Reuters news agency, Romney intends to promise Jewish Republicans that Israel will be his first foreign stop if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee and goes on to oust President Barack Obama from the White House in next November’s election.

Romney, who will give a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, will say that Obama has proposed that Israel adopt “indefensible borders” and has been “timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear war.”

Romney, along with other GOP presidential hopefuls, has been critical of Obama’s policy towards Israel, particularly after Obama’s speech on Middle East policy last May.

During the speech, the President called for a return to 1949 armistice lines, and Romney later accused Obama of having “thrown Israel under the bus.”

Romney, who visited Israel last January, reiterated his support for the Jewish state in a recent televised debate and said, “If you disagree with an ally, you talk about it privately, but in public you stand shoulder to shoulder with your allies. The right course for us is to stand behind our friends, to listen to them and to let the entire world know that we will stay with them and that we will support them and defend them.”

According to Reuters, the presidential hopeful is planning to tell the Republican Jewish Coalition that Obama’s actions “have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are poised to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table. President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East.”

The report is based on excerpts of Romney’s speech released by his campaign.

“I will travel to Israel on my first foreign trip. I will reaffirm as a vital national interest Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. I want the world to know that the bonds between Israel and the United States are unshakable,” Romney will say.

He will also address the Iranian issue during his speech, saying that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide under Article III of the Genocide Convention.

The Iranian President has openly called for Israel’s destruction and to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

“The ayatollahs will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons on my watch,” Romney will say. “A nuclear-armed Iran is not only an Israel problem, it is problem for the United States and all the decent countries of the world.”

The Republican Jewish conference is expected to hear from all the major Republican candidates seeking the 2012 nomination, including surging Romney rival Newt Gingrich, Reuters reported.