Mitt Romney is planning a trip to Israel sometime before the end of the summer. His visit to the region will surely be noted in the minds of Israeli leaders considering President Obama still hasn't been there during his time as the leader of the free world. Obama did visit as a presidential candidate back in 2008. The Romney visit will come at a time when Syrian violence continues to rage out of control and as the Mulsim Brotherhood gains even more power in Egypt.
An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed to the New York Times that Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is expected to meet with Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres, opposition leaders from the Labor Party, U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro and Palestinian President Salam Fayyad.
The trip, likely a short one, may come at the end of Romney’s visit to the Olympics in London. It will be his fourth visit to Israel.
“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” Ron Dermer, the Netanyahu aide and a former U.S. Republican adviser, told the New York Times.
Romney has been a sharp critic of President Obama’s Israel policy during his candidacy. He recently said he would “do the opposite” of Obama on Israel, and in 2011 blamed Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus” during a speech on the Middle East when Obama called for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps.
Romney and Netanyahu are longtime friends, have known each other since 1976 and worked together as corporate advisers.
When Mr. Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Netanyahu offered him firsthand pointers on how to shrink the size of government. When Mr. Netanyahu wanted to encourage pension funds to divest from businesses tied to Iran, Mr. Romney counseled him on which American officials to meet with. And when Mr. Romney first ran for president, Mr. Netanyahu presciently asked him whether he thought Newt Gingrich would ever jump into the race.