Romney to visit Israel before election


Washington, July 2 – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is set to visit Israel this summer to confer with officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a top aide to the Israeli premier said Monday.

“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s senior adviser, told The New York Times. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”

Dermer did not set a date for the meeting. In 2008, then-presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama visited the country, with an itinerary that included stops at the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem and an Israeli town, Sderot, that is often targeted by missiles fired from Hamas-run Gaza.

Romney often has criticized the Obama administration for perceived shortcomings in the U.S.-Israel relationship, including a soft stance on the Iranian nuclear issue. Obama and other White House officials often have asserted the unprecedented amounts of financial and military aid to the Jewish state.

In early April, the Times published an article exploring the ties between Romney and Netanyahu when both men worked for the Boston Consulting Group in 1976. Netanyahu has since downplayed the connection, although many top Republicans have offered the link as evidence of what they deem will be a Romney administration more sympathetic to Israel’s concerns.

This will mark Romney’s fourth visit to Israel, and Dermer said he and Netanyahu would likely share a meal at the latter’s official residence in Jerusalem.

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