Israel deserves better treatment than it has gotten from the United States during Barack Obama’s presidency, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in an interview with Israel Hayom’s weekend magazine that was published early Friday morning.
Speaking with the newspaper after his speech to former veterans at a conference in Reno, Nevada, on Tuesday, Romney reiterated his “commitment to use any means possible to prevent Iran from going nuclear.” He also alluded to strong support for Israel in the face of Iranian threats, promising to “close ranks with those who share our worldview” regarding the dangerous nature of the regime in Tehran.
Israel Hayom is owned by American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has been among the Romney campaign’s biggest donors, pumping tens of millions of dollars into the campaign.
Romney also spoke to Haaretz from London ahead of the visit to Israel, though he was hamstrung by his commitment — a longstanding American political tradition — to not criticize the president while abroad. He promised to offer that same courtesy to Israel in the international arena should he be elected president.
“If I will be president, there will be no confrontations between our nations before international institutions,” he said. “There will be no public denouncing of Israel by the U.S. in the UN. Israel’s friendly and unfriendly neighbors will know we stand with you. I believe that is the real way to achieve peace — by working with Israel, not creating distance between Israel and America.”
Any misunderstandings between a Romney administration and Israel would be handled privately and discreetly, without accusations, he told Israel Hayom.
Romney also called Israel’s 1967 lines “indefensible” and said he would not call on Israel to return to them as part of negotiations with the Palestinians.
“The president has also spoken of returning to 1967 borders – they are indefensible. And acting as a negotiator and usurping the primary role played by Israel in negotiating for its own future is not the right course for America to take,” Romney said.
Obama has come under fire from some pro-Israel groups, especially on the right, after calling for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, with agreed-upon land swaps.
Much of Romney’s campaign against Obama’s foreign policy has focused on Israel, and what he sees as the White House’s abandonment of Jerusalem. At one point during the GOP primary, the Republican contender accused Obama of throwing Israel under the bus.
During a speech earlier this week in Reno, Romney castigated Obama for “lecturing Israel’s leaders.”
While Romney told Haaretz he would do everything to stop a nuclear Iran, even standing behind a popular revolution, he seemed more hesitant on the issue of Syria, saying terror groups could use the chaos to seize gains and hinting he would not use US power to intervene as president.
“I think it is important for the responsible nations of the world to seek to understand which forces in Syria represent real change, rather than the kind of destruction that might occur if Al-Qaida were to seize the development of chaos and assert leadership in some significant way in Syria,” he said. “I would hope that nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia and others would identify responsible voices of dissent within Syria, provide them with the arms they might need to protect themselves and further their cause.”
Romney is expected to arrive in Israel later this weekend, where he will meet with leaders and hold a fundraising dinner.