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Poll: Romney beats Obama on who would best promote Israel's interests

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“What Israelis know about Romney: He’s not Obama,” observes Jerusalem Post diplomatic correspondent Herb Keinon, anticipating Mitt Romney’s 36-hour visit to Israel this weekend. Though the locals know little about him, Mr. Romney still outpolls President Obama, says a Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies survey asking Israelis who would best promote Israel’s interests.

“Twenty-nine percent said Romney, while 22 percent said Obama. Fully 49 percent said they didn’t know, an astounding figure considering that Israelis generally — but not always — like and trust sitting U.S. presidents,” Mr. Keinon says. “What is also telling is that Romney outpolled Obama, even though he has absolutely no track record on Israel. Romney’s rhetoric is good, he says all the right things regarding the changes in the Middle East and Iran, but he has no paper trail. Nevertheless, more Israelis believe he will be better for the country than Obama.”

Why?

“The reason seems to be a lingering distrust of Obama,” Mr. Keinon says. “Israelis, always feeling vulnerable, want an American president who not only likes Israel the way he likes Taiwan or New Zealand, but loves Israel, feels something special toward it. That is why Israelis liked George W. Bush, and also why they liked Bill Clinton, though many disagreed with his Mideast direction. Still, Clinton went out of his way to demonstrate personally deep friendship for Israel. Obama — more cerebral, less emotional — has not done so.”

Meanwhile, the White House issued this statement after reporters asked Thursday whether the U.S. officially recognized Jerusalem or Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel:

“The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. We continue to work with the parties to resolve this issue and others in a way that is just and fair, and respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

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