Mitt Romney will visit Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli PM's senior aide confirmed.
The New York Times reported that the Republican presidential candidate will also meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad; Israeli President Shimon Peres; American ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem.
This will be Romney’s fourth visit to Israel, a campaign official told Bloomberg Businessweek, though the timing and other details have not yet been publicly released.
“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s senior adviser, told the Times. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”
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The trip will pull Romney away from the campaign trail during a crucial time in the election, but the visit's aim is to garner him support from American Jewish voters, evangelicals, and foreign policy experts, according to the Washington Post.
Romney has also hammered Obama on his stance about Israel, accusing the President of throwing the Jewish state “under the bus” for arguing that any peace negotiations should be based on Israel’s 1967 borders, the Post reported.
“I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the president has done and do the opposite,” Romney said in June when asked about Israel, according to the Post.
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Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz speculated that Romney's visit may be a "minefield" for Netanyahu, who may be viewed as "playing US politics."
"You can already imagine the fists that will be clenched and the teeth that will be gnashed in the White House in Washington when Israel rolls out the red carpet for Mitt Romney, Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu’s preferred candidate," wrote Ha'aretz' Chemi Shalev.
Obama also visited Israel in July 2008 as a presidential candidate, according to the Times, where he met with Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, defense minister, Mr. Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.