Palin coming to Israel? You betcha!

Former VP candidate to visit religious sites, meet with PM during 2-day ‘appetizer’ tour this weekend.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN,
March 18, 2011 01:13
3 minute read.
Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin 311 Reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will come to Israel for the first time this weekend following a speech in India on Saturday, Palin said in a statement on Thursday.

In their two-day visit, Palin and her husband Todd intend to pack in tours of Jerusalem’s Old City and Nazareth, as well as meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the chairman of World Likud, MK Danny Danon, who is close to Republican officials. She also may visit Masada, the Western Wall tunnels, and Christian sites in Bethlehem.

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“I’m thankful to be able to travel to Israel on my way back to the US,” Palin said. “As the world confronts sweeping changes and new realities, I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the key issues facing his country, our ally Israel.”

Palin had been planning a longer visit for more than a year, and she still is. Sources with knowledge of her plans called the current trip “an appetizer” for a more official visit later in the year.

A likely candidate for the Republican nomination for president, Palin’s visit will follow in the footsteps of other expected candidates like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour and Rudolph Giuliani, who all met with Netanyahu during their respective visits.

Palin’s meeting with Netanyahu is expected to take place Monday night. An official in Netanyahu’s office said that Netanyahu understands well the importance of meeting US politicians, and makes every effort to meet them, regardless of party affiliation.

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Palin kept an Israeli flag in her office when she was governor of Alaska. She has been a frequent critic of US President Barack Obama’s policies on Israel.

“The Jewish settlements should be expanded upon because the population will continue to grow,” she said in a recent interview. “The Obama administration does not have the right to tell them not to grow.”

In a Facebook post last year, Palin wrote that “as Israel makes concessions (and is still criticized by the Obama Administration), Arab leaders are just sitting back waiting for the White House to further pressure Israel. The Obama Administration needs to open its eyes and recognize that it is only Iran and her terrorist allies that benefit from this manufactured Israeli controversy.”

Palin will be coming at a time when her poll numbers in the US are on a steep decline. A Bloomberg National Poll conducted from March 4-7 found that 60 percent of the US public has either a “mostly unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of her.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday found that her numbers among Republican and Republicanleaning voters have dropped considerably.

According to this poll, 58% of voters in this category view here favorably, a 30% drop from the 88% favorable rating she had right after Sen. John McCain picked her as his running mate in 2008.

Obama has faced criticism for not visiting Israel since becoming president. His associates have said on multiple occasions that he was waiting for when a visit could make the maximum impact.

“By the time Obama comes, it will be too late to matter,” Danon said.

“Obama needs to worry that the Republican leadership is coming here while he has only visited Arab countries since becoming president. I have no doubt that this could impact the 2012 election.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report

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