In an interview with NBC News late last week, President Barack Obama attempted to justify why he has not visited Israel since becoming president.
"The truth of the matter is, there are a number of countries I didn't visit,” Obama said. “I visited Israel just a couple of months before I was president."
"Given how important I think the situation in the Middle East is and our partnership with Israel, which is stronger than it’s ever been, when I go to Israel, I want to make sure that we are actually moving something forward,” the president continued.
While Obama did not elaborate on what he meant by “moving something forward,” it is likely that he was referring to peace negotiations, which have been deadlocked during his presidency.
The Romney campaign fired back with a statement calling Obama's Middle East foreign policy a "failure."
"After promising to make peace a top priority, the president sought to place ‘daylight’ between the United States and Israel, and failed to engage in the peace process," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. "His excuse for not visiting Israel is that ‘there are a number of countries’ he ‘didn't visit.’ But President Obama fails to recognize that Israel isn’t just any other country — it is our closest ally in the Middle East. As President, Mitt Romney’s first overseas trip will be to Jerusalem, and under a Romney Administration, the world will never question America’s solidarity with Israel.”
During the final presidential debate on foreign policy, Romney accused Obama of going on an “apology tour” after being elected president.
“Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq,” Romney said. “And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And, by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations and on Arabic TV you said that America had been dismissive and derisive.”
“I think they looked at that and saw weakness,” Romney continued. “It's essential for a president to show strength from the very beginning.”