Romney’s meeting with Netanyahu spotlights regional issues
July 29, 2012 3 Comments
By Lauren Appelbaum, Political Director
Washington, July 29 – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was briefed Sunday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of a day of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
“You’ve been a personal friend of mine and a strong friend of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said as he welcomed Romney to his office. The two leaders have known each other for decades since the two men worked at Boston Consulting Group together.
“In this great convulsion, there is one stable, democratic ally of the United States here in the Middle East, and that’s Israel,” Netanyahu said. “That’s why I think that strengthening the relationship between America and Israel is in the interest of peace, in the interest of both our countries, and I believe that your visit is an expression of that desire on both of our peoples.”
“We have a relationship between our nations which spans many years and, at the same time, is one based not just on mutual interest, but also on shared values,” Romney replied. “Like Israel, we share a commitment to democracy, to freedom of speech, to freedom of association, to the preservation of human rights; and these common values and common principles have caused our nations to draw closer over the years.”
The two also spoke about the Iranian nuclear threat as Iran continues to defy the world community and rejects repeated United Nations resolutions demanding it open its nuclear program to international inspection. The International Atomic Energy Agency concluded Iran was taking steps that could only be for the development of nuclear weapons, and Iranian leaders have constantly stated their goal is to destroy Israel.
“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 and to assure that people recognize throughout the world that the United States and Israel are bound in our commitments to one another,” Romney said to Netanyahu.
Romney and Netanyahu both mentioned the different Arab uprisings in the region, as intensive fighting rages in embattled neighboring Syria less than 150 miles from the meetings in Jerusalem. Syrian President Bashar Assad is holding on to power, suppressing the opposition with a military crackdown against democratic reforms that so far has left more than 10,000 people dead, mostly civilians.
Romney arrived in Israel Saturday evening, the beginning of Tisha B’Av, an annual Jewish fast day that commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred on the same Hebrew calendar date. The day, which has been called the saddest day in Jewish history, also commemorates other Jewish tragedies that occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.
Romney also is scheduled to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. At 7pm Israel time, Romney will be delivering foreign policy remarks in Jerusalem.