US presidential candidate Mitt Romney was set to kick off the official portion of his visit to Israel Sunday morning in a 10:40 a.m. meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, followed by additional meetings with President Shimon Peres, Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Romney and Netanyahu will meet again later in the day after the Tisha Be’av fast when he and his wife, Ann, will dine at the Prime Minister’s Residence with Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.
He is also scheduled to give a foreign policy address during the late afternoon in Jerusalem. Adding to the sense that Israel is a background prop for the campaign is the fact that Romney will also sit for an ABC interview from Israel.
Netanyahu and Romney are not scheduled to hold any significant joint public appearances, with the prime minister very keen on not being perceived in any way as intervening in the US elections.
The media will be limited to a photo-op before their Sunday morning meeting.
Romney’s visit to Israel – his fourth – is widely considered an effort to woo pro-Israel voters in the US, both Jews and Evangelical Christians, many of whom are discontent with the Middle East policies of President Barack Obama.
Romney arrived in Israel on Saturday night on the second leg of a three-country tour that began in London, where he badly annoyed his hosts by questioning whether the city was ready for the Olympics.
The tour to England, Israel and Poland is largely meant to build up the foreign policy credentials of the candidate, who has served one term as governor of Massachusetts and has little foreign policy experience.
Romney is slated to leave for Poland at about noon on Monday.
Before taking off, he is scheduled to host a fund-raiser at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem Monday morning. The event was moved from Sunday evening to Monday morning so as not to conflict with Tisha Be’av. The cost to attend the event, where Romney is expected to appear for 45 minutes, is $50,000 a couple.