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Question of the Day
Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, said Mr. Romney’s description of Jerusalem is “unacceptable, and we completely reject it.”
“The U.S. election campaign should never be at the expense of the Palestinians,” he said. “Romney is rewarding occupation, settlement and extremism in the region with such declarations.”
The Obama administration, meanwhile, appeared to have launched a pre-emptive campaign strike of its own ahead of Mr. Romney’s visit in the form of a front-page story that appeared Saturday in the daily Ha’aretz that claimed U.S. national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon had recently briefed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on details of U.S. contingency plans for any attack on Iran.
Citing “a senior American official,” the newspaper report said that Mr. Donilon made clear that Washington was making serious preparations for a strike if military action is deemed necessary.
A Netanyahu spokesman vigorously denied that Mr. Donilon revealed operational plans for attacking Iran, and Mr. Donilon’s office declined to comment on the private meeting.
While the Obama administration hasn’t ruled out the military option, the president has relied on economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts in an attempt to discourage Iran from building a nuclear bomb, prompting critics to label him as being “soft” on Iran.
Mr. Netanyahu has had a tense relationship with Mr. Obama over the past few years, principally over Jewish settlements, which the Democrat initially made a focal point of his Middle East diplomacy.
The Israeli leader has ”lectured” Mr. Obama in the Oval Office, in the presence of the media, on the suffering of the Jews and Israel’s security perils. Mr. Obama once famously broke off a deadlocked meeting with him in the White House by saying he was going upstairs to have dinner with his family. He suggested that Mr. Netanyahu and his aides hang around downstairs and “let me know” if they come up with a more acceptable position. They didn’t.
Mr. Romney, on the other hand, has attempted to showcase an acquaintance with “my friend Bibi” going back to the 1970s when they were both consultants at the Boston Consulting Group, though Mr. Netanyahu has downplayed the relationship as distant.
“We didn’t know each other that well,” he told Time magazine in May. “He was the whiz kid. I was just in the back of the room.”
“All the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota,” he said. “We need a strong and credible military threat coupled with sanctions in order to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
In one of his most pointed hints yet of an Israeli strike, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last week that dealing with a nuclear-armed Iran “would be many times more complex, dangerous and costly, both in terms of human life and resources, than a pre-emptive strike.”
Dan Senor, a Romney foreign policy aide, touched on the subject ahead of Mr. Romney’s speech by telling reporters that the former governor would support a unilateral strike if all economic and diplomatic options are exhausted.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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