Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to visit Israel this
summer for meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other
officials, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing a senior Netanyahu aide.
“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” the Times quoted Ron Dermer as saying. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”
to the report, Romney will also meet with President Shimon Peres, US
Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, members of the opposition and
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Israeli Republican political consultant Jonny Daniels said in late May
that Romney would be visiting, but the Romney campaign said at that time that the former Massachusetts governor had no plans to come.
Daniels is the senior adviser to deputy speaker to the Knesset Danny Danon, who helped facilitate the visit of prominent Republicans to Israel including Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain and Glenn Beck.
Romney has attempted to reach out to Jewish voters and Christian conservatives by saying he would be more supportive of Israel
than US President Barack Obama, particularly in regard to efforts to keep Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.
also visited Israel while he was a presidential candidate in 2008, but
has not made a trip to the Jewish state since he was elected.
The visit will mark Romney's fourth trip to Israel, the last of which was in January 2011.
A recent poll
commissioned by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, the
Bar-Ilan University Center for International Communication and the
Anti-Defamation League – found that while 51 percent of Israeli Jews
believe Obama is “friendly” or “very friendly” toward Israel, more
people think Romney, would better promote Israel’s interests. Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.