by Ray Fleming

Mitt Romney is an American citizen, a former State governor and the probable Republican Party's choice for the presidential election in November. It would therefore be reasonable to expect him to act on overseas visits with a sense of the responsibility that his status requires. Instead in his visits to Britain and Israel he has behaved like the proverbial bull in a china shop.

His crass comments on the London Olympics are indicative of his crude style but of no lasting importance. That cannot be said, however, of some of the remarks he made in Israel. He called Jerusalem “Israel's capital city”, as the Israeli government claims it to be. However, as an American Mr Romney should know the official US position: “The status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be resolved in final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.” The US Embassy, like all others, is in Tel Aviv.

The main purpose of Mr Romney's visit to Israel was electoral fund-raising, in itself a questionable objective in a foreign country since it could imply a commitment to future policies favourable to that country. Of more immediate concern was Mr Romney's unqualified support for “Israel's right to defend itself, and for America to stand with it” in relation to Iran's nuclear programme -- an undertaking that goes beyond President Obama's current policy which calls for Israeli restraint.


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