Romney to visit Israel

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will visit Israel this summer.

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed to the New York Times that Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is expected to meet with Netanyahu, Israeli President Shimon Peres, opposition leaders from the Labor Party, U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro and Palestinian President Salam Fayyad.

The trip, likely a short one, may come at the end of Romney’s visit to the Olympics in London. It will be his fourth visit to Israel.

“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” Ron Dermer, the Netanyahu aide and a former U.S. Republican adviser, told the New York Times.

Romney has been a sharp critic of President Obama’s Israel policy during his candidacy. He recently said he would “do the opposite” of Obama on Israel, and in 2011 blamed Obama for “throwing Israel under the bus” during a speech on the Middle East when Obama called for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the 1967 borders, with land swaps.

Obama also traveled to Israel as a candidate in 2008, when he met with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Fayyad and then-Opposition Leader Netanyahu, among other Palestinian and Israeli officials. He also visited Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, as well as Sderot, the embattled town on Israel’s border with Gaza.

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