Romney in Jerusalem affirms strong Israel-U.S. alliance

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Mitt Romney in Jerusalem affirmed the strong alliance between the United States and Israel.

Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in meetings Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres also spoke of the threat a nuclear Iran would pose to the U.S. and Israel. He had arrived in Israel the previous evening from London.

“As we face the challenges of an Iran seeking nuclear capability, we must draw upon our interests and our values to take them on a different course,” Romney said in his meeting with Netanyahu.

In his meeting with Peres, Romney said the threat that Iran “would pose to Israel, the region and the world is incomprehensible and unacceptable.”

Hours before Romney’s speech, his liaison to the Jewish community, Dan Senor, said that Romney if elected would support a unilateral Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision,” Senor said in a news briefing, according to The Associated Press.

Romney said he saw special significance in visiting Israel on the fast of the ninth of Av, which commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. He called the day “a time of remembrance of many lives that have been lost to tragedy and terror.”

Netanyahu and Peres also spoke of the severity of the potential Iranian nuclear threat and emphasized their appreciation for America’s bipartisan support of Israel.

"I think it’s important to do everything in our power to prevent the Ayatollahs from possessing” nuclear capability, Netanyahu said. “We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota.”

In a public statement with Romney, Peres also criticized Iran and said that America and Israel should “declare that all options are on the table.” Peres also called on the Arab League to solve the conflict in Syria and said that Israel should push for peace with the Palestinians.

“Peace is the hopeful part of the storm” in the Middle East, Peres said. “We’d like to see two states for two peoples. We’ve come a long way. This should be completed.”

During his meeting with Peres, Romney also said that “our hope is to find a two-state solution.”

After leaving Peres, Romney met with Shaul Mofaz, the head of the centrist Kadima Party that broke away from Netanyahu’s governing coalition earlier this month. Romney is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and to deliver a policy address Sunday evening in Jerusalem.

Also Sunday, Romney and his wife, Ann, visited the Western Wall, where they each placed a note between its stones. Romney wore a black kipah.

 

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