Obama would visit Israel in 2nd term, says adviser

Kahl, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East, made comment to reporters about Obama’s travel plans.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPOND
July 24, 2012 05:29
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama 370 (R). (photo credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

 
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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 Europe.

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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.

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He 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 office.

“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.

Romney 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 years ago.”

Instead, he argued, “Governor Romney will restore the pillars of American strength to secure our interests and defend our values.”

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