Netanyahu’s Romney embrace


Fred Barnes of the conservative Weekly Standard (which previously had a scoop on Mitt Romney’s Tisha b’Av timing) reviews Romney’s foreign trip, and notes what he describes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s embrace of Romney.

Barnes writes:

Eclipsed by the commotion over gaffes was the remarkable character of the Israeli government’s welcome of Romney. Given the fact that Israel will have to work with President Obama for several more months—and possibly four more years—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been expected to welcome Romney, but to be careful not to show excessive enthusiasm. Instead, he praised Romney extravagantly, hugged him, and gave every indication he wants Romney to defeat Obama in the election.

A month or so before the visit, Netanyahu decided to embrace Romney. When Romney showed up for his first meeting with Netanyahu, whose relationship with Obama is chilly, the prime minister greeted him effusively. He addressed Romney by his first name. “We’ve known each other for many decades, since you were a young man, but for some reason, you still look young,” he said. Romney laughed. “You’ve been a personal friend of mine and a strong friend of the state of Israel, and that’s why it’s a pleasure to see you.”


Netanyahu didn’t stop there. He praised Romney’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars a week earlier in Reno—a speech notable for its strong attack on Obama’s policies. Without mentioning Obama by name, Netanyahu injected his own criticism. “We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian [nuclear program] by one iota,” he said.

Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin, writing a week earlier, had argued that what was noteworthy was not so much the warmth between Netanyahu and Romney but rather how their relationship contrasted with what he described as President Obama’s “disconnect” with Israel on Iran. (Israeli President  Shimon Peres, it should be noted, recently suggested that there is a "basic agreement" between the U.S. and Israel on Iran, though he said that there is "maybe difference in timing or appreciation.")

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