Mitt Romney was in Israel this weekend, in case you missed it. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee met with his old buddy, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss a wide range of issues facing the Middle East. On Sunday, Romney also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Romney spokesman Dan Senor assured reporters that Romney would support whatever decision Israel made about dealing with Iran and its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. During a joint appearance, Netanyahu did intimate that the current administration in the White House, namely Barack Obama, has failed to stop Iran with just diplomacy. Romney also hinted that he would consider moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something Obama opposes.
Needless to say, Obama could not allow Romney′s visit to Israel dominate the news cycle. So he dispatched Defense Secretary Leon Panetta there. An Israeli newspaper also leaked a story that US officials briefed the Israeli government as to possible military strikes against Iran should diplomatic talks continue to go nowhere. Was this leak intentional as a political move, much like other national security leaks now attributed to the White House? I would say the answer to that is a big, YES!
The relationship between the US and Israel has seemed strained during the Obama years. Obama has not visited our only real ally in the region since taking office. During his first meeting in Washington with Obama, Netanyahu was treated shabbily by Obama and his staff. After their meeting was rudely cut short so Obama could eat dinner, Netanyahu was shown the back door and exited the White House near the trash bins.
The message of Mitt Romney in Israel this weekend was very clear, should Romney be elected, the Jewish state will once again have a committed friend in the White House. As it is, Romney has been a long-time friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu already. Unlike Barack Obama, Romney is talking tough about Iran and its nuclear program. If Israel has to go it alone against Iran, Romney will back them up. Given what is happening in Syria, the Middle East should be happy that Israel took out the Syrian nuclear reactor built with help from Iran and North Korea. Romney also pledged to consider relocating the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which may not be welcomed by Palestinian Authority Prime Minsiter Salam Fayad with whom Romeny discussed issues on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.