Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a man mentioned as a possible Republican
vice-presidential candidate, met Monday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
and said it was only natural Israel would be his first foreign destination as
“This is my first visit abroad as governor and there was never
any question of where we would come first, so I’m glad we did,” Christie said
before the meeting.
He was elected governor in November
Netanyahu welcomed Christie with a line likely to become fodder for
US late night comedians, saying, “You know, there are so many similarities
between New Jersey and Israel.”
“We’re roughly the same size,” Netanyahu
said. “We’re roughly the same population. I know your voters have better
neighbors. Other than that, there are several similarities and I look forward to
discussing how we can increase the cooperation.”
Soon after Netanyahu
made his comment, prominent US political journalist and blogger Ben Smith
tweeted: “Other things New Jersey and Israel have in common: Beaches, obsessive
Christie endorsed Republican candidate Mitt Romney in
October, ending months of speculation that he himself might enter the 2012
Christie arrived in Israel Monday for a visit billed
as “Jersey to Jerusalem: Economic Growth, Diplomacy, Observance,” accompanied by
his family and a delegation of 14 business and Jewish leaders. Among them was
Dan Senor, co-author of the popular book Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s
The four-day visit to Israel is being seen by some as
Christie’s way of putting himself on the national political map.
be here until Thursday, when he will travel to Jordan for a meeting with King
Christie met Netanyahu soon after arriving, and – according
to officials in the Prime Minister’s Office – their discussion dealt first with
economic issues, then the region.
Regarding the changes in the Middle
East, Netanyahu said the world was witnessing a “tectonic shift in the region,”
in that “it appears the so-called Arab Spring is being painted green – and I am
talking about Islamists and not environmentalists.”
Netanyahu was not
relating to recent events in Egypt, where a Muslim Brotherhood candidate has
announced his intention to run for president, but rather at how events have
played out in Tunisia, Morocco and Libya, officials in his office
While they also discussed Iran and Syria, the Palestinian
issue did not even come up. American politics was another issue that was not
raised, with one official saying Netanyahu is careful to avoid discussing this
issue with visiting leaders.
Three of Christie’s children came to the
Prime Minister’s Office to meet Netanyahu, and shuffled out before the meeting
began. “It was cute,” one official said of the children aged 16, 12 and nine.
“They were well-behaved.”
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