WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama is expected to visit Israel during his
second term, should he be reelected, according to a former US defense official
now helping the president’s campaign.
Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant
secretary of defense for the Middle East, made the comment about Obama’s
anticipated travel plans during a conference call with reporters Monday about
Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s upcoming trip to Israel and
Kahl’s statement could seek to allay the criticism that Obama has
faced from some quarters of the Jewish community for not traveling to Israel
during his first term, as well as undercut some of Romney’s momentum in visiting
Israel during the campaign.
Romney will arrive in England Thursday,
followed by a stop in Israel Sunday and then Poland.
Kahl and other
former Obama administration staffers on the call criticized Romney’s past
assertion that he would do “the opposite” of the president on Israel.
questioned whether that would mean cutting back on historic levels of defense
funding, or supporting anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.
But then a
reporter noted that one point of contention sure to be raised during the trip
was Obama’s omission of Israel on Middle East tours during four years in
“We can expect him to visit Israel in a second term, should he be
reelected,” said Kahl, who noted that Obama, like Romney now, visited Israel
when he was a candidate back in 2008.
“I don’t think this is a serious
policy difference,” he added.
Kahl challenged Romney on Iran, where he
said the former Massachusetts governor has used some “tough talk” but not been
clear about what he would do.
“If Romney thinks it’s time to use military
action against Iran and abandon diplomacy prematurely, I think he owes it to the
American people to actually say so,” Kahl said.
The Romney campaign did
not respond specifically to the attacks leveled by the Obama team as requested
by The Jerusalem Post, but sent out a summary of foreign policy points where it
believes Obama has made missteps, including on Israel, where the campaign
attacked the president for blindsiding the Jewish state on policies on borders,
settlements and its willingness to distance itself from Israel.
campaign spokesman Ryan Williams also put out a statement charging that “in no
region of the world is our country’s influence any stronger than it was four
Instead, he argued, “Governor Romney will restore the pillars
of American strength to secure our interests and defend our values.”