Romney coming to Israel, but wiill he meet Abu Mazen?
Mr. Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; President Shimon Peres of Israel; the American ambassador, Daniel B. Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem. He plans to have at least one public event in a trip that will likely last less than two days.I skipped the first paragraph, which said that Romney would meet with Netanyahu. But note who's not on that list? Yep - it seems that Romney will NOT meet Abu Mazen. I've asked Times reporter Jodi Rudoren to confirm that, and will update one way or the other.
“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” said Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser, who worked with Republicans in the United States before immigrating here. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”
For Mr. Romney, the trip is an opportunity to appeal both to Jewish voters and donors, whose overwhelming support of President Obama has softened, according to some polls, and to evangelical Christians, whose trust he is still fighting to win. At the March conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby known as Aipac, Mr. Romney vowed that Israel would be the destination of his first foreign trip as president, underscoring the fact that Mr. Obama has not visited here since his election, a sore spot among some Israel supporters.
In a statement, Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said: “Governor Romney has said he would do the opposite of what President Obama in our relations with Israel. Now he must specify how — does that mean he would reverse President Obama’s policies of sending Israel the largest security assistance packages in history? Does it mean he would let Israel stand alone at the United Nations, or that he would stop funding the Iron Dome system? Does it mean he would abandon the coalition working together to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions?”
Some Republicans have also tried to play up Mr. Romney’s longstanding personal ties to Mr. Netanyahu — the two men worked together in 1976 at the Boston Consulting Group. They are not close friends but have kept up ties through the years. Mr. Netanyahu offered Mr. Romney pointers on how to shrink government in Massachusetts, and Mr. Romney later counseled Mr. Netanyahu on which American officials to meet with as he tried to encourage pension funds to divest of Iranian businesses. On Super Tuesday, the prime minister gave the candidate a personal telephone briefing about Iran.
Mr. Dermer said the men 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 said. “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.”