Professor Eytan Gilboa, Director of the Center for International Communication at Bar Ilan University and an expert on U.S.-Israel relations, on Sunday analyzed the pro-Israel comments made by Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
During a CNN-sponsored Republican debate in Jacksonville, Florida, last Thursday, both Romney and Gingrich reiterated their support for Israel.
Romney charged that U.S. President Barack Obama “threw Israel under a bus” and noted that “the reason that there's not peace between the Palestinians and Israel is because there is in the leadership of the Palestinian people Hamas and others who think like Hamas who have as their intent the elimination of Israel.”
He added that the Israelis “would be happy to have a two state solution. It's the Palestinians who don't want a two state solution, they want to eliminate the state of Israel.”
Gingrich addressed the constant rocket attacks coming from Gaza and asked the audience, “Now, imagine in Duvall County (in Florida) that 11 rockets hit from your neighbor. How many of you would be for a peace process and how many of you would say, you know, that looks like an act of war?”
The former House speaker also repeated his pledge to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv should he be elected president. Its current location is meant to symbolize American neutrality in the peace talks.
Prof. Gilboa noted in a conversation with Arutz Sheva that the next Republican primary will take place in the state of Florida, where many of the voters are Jewish. He added, however, that he believes that Romney’s and Gingrich’s remarks express their true positions rather than being a tactic to win more votes in Florida.
He further noted that even if sometimes it seems more likely that Gingrich will win the Republican nomination, his right-wing views may be problematic down the road because they are likely to make it more difficult for him to defeat Obama. On the other hand, said Prof. Gilboa, Romney’s positions which are more centrist give him a better chance of winning the Presidential election.
He mentioned the fact that the number of undecided voters in the general election, which previously stood at 15 percent, has risen to 40 percent, and noted that those undecided voters will likely be looking for more centrist positions in the candidate who is running against Obama.
Last week, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, formerly a Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, told Arutz Sheva that he believes that Gingrich has a good chance of beating Romney.
Prof. Gilboa said that Obama does not need to do much at the present time, other than to look at how the two Republican rivals are fighting one another. He said that Obama needs these sorts of struggles to bring pack his positive rating. However, Gilboa noted, the issue which will have the most central effect on Obama’s chances for re-election is the economy. Should Obama fail economically, he said, he will have a hard time winning re-election.