Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will visit Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other leaders, a senior aide to Netanyahu told The New York Times on Monday.
According to the report Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, President Shimon Peres of Israel, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel B. Shapiro and leaders of the opposition Labor Party.
“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s senior adviser, told The New York Times. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”
The report noted that this will be Romney’s fourth visit to Israel. He first came with his family on a Mormon Church trip, according to a campaign official, then served as a keynote speaker at the Herzliya Conference on security in 2007. In January 2011, Romney spent three days in Israel during a tour that also included Afghanistan and Jordan.
Dermer said Netanyahu and Romney would probably meet over a meal at the prime minister’s residence, though details have not yet been decided.
“The prime minister meets Democratic and Republican officials alike,” he told The New York Times. “I’m sure they want to broadcast a very strong relationship with Israel, and Israel wants to broadcast a very strong bipartisan relationship with both sides of the aisle.”
Republican Congressmen recently urged Romney to hurry up and visit Israel to ”shame” President Obama, who has not visited as president.
Obama visited Israel during his 2008 campaign, and has hinted that he will come again this year before the November elections.
A recent poll indicated that Obama’s support from Jews in New York State has plummeted and he now can count only on a slim majority to vote for him. The poll indicated that the reason for the drop in support is that Jews – like others – feel worse off than four years ago.
While the president is expected to easily win New York in the November election, the drop in Jewish support is a worrying sign for his fundraisers and for campaign managers in states where the Jewish vote may be critical.
A poll released last month found that Jewish voters still prefer Obama over Romney, but a video recently uploaded to YouTube, reveals some strong and confused attitudes that Jewish Americans have towards President Obama and his policy on Israel.
The video was filmed by Rabbi David Nesenoff, who personally walked up to people seated at several kosher delis in New York, asking them about the food and then proceeding to inquire about Obama and Israel.
Some of the people shown in the video admitted having voted for Obama in 2008 but at the same time said they are now reconsidering their vote in the November elections.
Obama has come under fire for his policy on Israel. In his foreign policy speech last May, Obama called for Israel to return to the indefensible pre-1967 borders as a starting point for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.