Israel Political Brief April 17, 2012: Romney’s triumph smooths sharp edges of GOP Middle East policy rhetoric

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Romney’s triumph smooths sharp edges of GOP Middle East policy rhetoric

Source: JTA, 4-17-12

The campaign for Mitt Romney, shown greeting the crowd in suburban Boston on March 6, 2012, is emphasizing his friendship with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his tough posture on Iran in distinguishing itself from President Obama.  (Dana Hansen/ Boston University News Service via CreativeCommons)
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The campaign for Mitt Romney, shown greeting the crowd in suburban Boston on March 6, 2012, is emphasizing his friendship with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his tough posture on Iran in distinguishing itself from President Obama. (Dana Hansen/ Boston University News Service via CreativeCommons)

The Republican primaries are effectively over, and gone with them is the sharp-edged rhetoric and departures from past U.S. policy on the Middle East.

Gone is Rick Santorum’s pledge to strike Iran and his suggestion that West Bank Palestinians should be referred to as Israelis. Gone is Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that the United States is engaged in a “long struggle with radical Islamists” and reference to the Palestinians as an “invented” people.

Instead we are left with Mitt Romney, the candidate who has tended to be relatively cautious in his foreign policy pronouncements, has emphasized the importance of America’s international alliances and drawn his foreign policy advisers from past Republican administrations

Dan Senor, a Romney foreign policy adviser who was an adviser to the George W. Bush administration during the Iraq War, said Romney stood by principles that dated back to the Truman presidency.

“America will stand by its allies, it will help dissidents fighting for freedom around the world, it will maintain a large enough defense budget to help the U.S. defend its own national security interests, defend its homeland, and advance these principles shared by America and its allies around the world,” he said, describing Romney’s foreign policy.

Senor said that Obama has embraced these principles to any degree — particularly when it comes to standing by allies — only after failing in his efforts to appease adversaries. As an example, he cited the administration’s emphasis in the first years of Obama’s term on Israel freezing settlements, as well as the president’s outreach to Iran in that period, and his refusal to back pro-democracy activists in that country.

“It was this effort to stand equidistant between traditional American allies and American adversaries,” he said.

Romney, he said, would have made clear to the Palestinians that preconditions were off the table and acted sooner to isolate Iran through sanctions and other measures, including seeking incitement to genocide charges against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“These are clear paths where the administration has chosen to go, and where Governor Romney would have gone another way,” he said.

Romney supporters say his hands-on, problem-solving approach would clear away the hesitancy and lack of resolve that they say has marked the Obama presidency….READ MORE

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Israel Political Brief April 17, 2012: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie takes hawkish line on Israel — Against Withdrawl from Jerusalem, West Bank & Golan Heights

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Source: JTA, 4-17-12

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie takes hawkish line on Israel

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie cautioned against Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday following his first trip to Israel earlier this month, Christie, who has been mentioned by Republicans as a possible vice presidential pick, said the most “eye-opening” part of his trip was a helicopter tour over part of the West Bank with Israeli military officials. Then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush expressed a similar sentiment after taking a similar helicopter tour in 1998 with then-Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon.

“Everyone who thinks they have an opinion that’s worth something on the Palestinian issue should take that tour,” Christie said. The helicopter ride took “three minutes from West Bank settlements to the Mediterranean. A missle goes much faster than a helicopter.”

Christie billed the trip, called “Jersey to Jerusalem,” as an “economic growth, diplomacy [and] observance” mission. Christie met with leaders of several Israeli companies, including Teva Pharmaceuticals and Project Better Place — the electric car startup — but the trip also focused on Israeli defense and policy.

The first-term governor added that he hoped to “expand my portfolio” as an up-and-coming national voice of the Republican Party. Last year, several Republican leaders urged Christie to run for president, but Christie demurred, and he has said he does not intend to seek national office during this gubernatorial term.

During the April 1-5 trip, Christie met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed Israel’s security concerns and Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

“The prime minister is an articulate spokesman and advocate for how peace negotiations should be conducted,” Christie said.

Christie called his meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, 89, like “walking into a history book.”…READ MORE

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