Romney to Israel
POSTED: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 8:30am
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 8:44am
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will travel to Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his presidential campaign confirmed Monday.
Romney will already be overseas in late July to attend the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The former Massachusetts governor, who last traveled to Israel in January 2011, has had a long relationship with Netanyahu, as they both worked together at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s.
Ron Dermer, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, called Romney "a strong friend of Israel."
"We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we're sure it will only deepen that," Dermer said on the planned meeting.
The details are not set but the two men would likely share a meal at the prime minister's residence.
"The prime minister meets Democratic and Republican officials alike," Dermer said. "I'm sure they want to broadcast a very strong relationship with Israel, and Israel wants to broadcast a very strong bipartisan relationship with both sides of the aisle."
In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Netanyahu expressed admiration for Romney but did not go as far as making what could be considered an endorsement.
"I respect Mitt Romney as I respect Barack Obama, the president of the United States. And that's the end of the ranking," the prime minister said on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "I have enough politics here than to get into American politics."
During this election cycle, Romney has been critical of President Barack Obama's handling of the U.S. relationship with Israel.
At the Republican Jewish Coalition in December, Romney took the president to task for criticizing Israel, not saying enough about the thousands of Hamas rockets fired into the country and his support for Israel to adopt "indefensible borders."
"These actions have emboldened Palestinian hard-liners who now are posed to form a unity government with terrorist Hamas and feel they can bypass Israel at the bargaining table," Romney said at the forum in Washington, D.C. "President Obama has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East."
News of the trip comes after some Republicans have been pressuring Romney to travel to Israel before the election.
"It would be a good visit for him," Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told The Hill newspaper last month.
Obama also traveled to Israel as a presidential candidate--in July of 2008--but has not visited the state as president.
His re-election campaign responded Monday to Romney's upcoming trip, defending the president's policies toward the Jewish state.
"Governor Romney has said he would do the opposite of what President Obama has done in our relations with Israel," said Ben LaBolt, the campaign's national press secretary, in a statement. "Now he must specify how - does that mean he would reverse President Obama's policies of sending Israel the largest security assistance packages in history? Does it mean he would let Israel stand alone at the United Nations, or that he would stop funding the Iron Dome system? Does it mean he would abandon the coalition working together to confront Iran's nuclear ambitions?"
The New York Times first reported the story Monday.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser and CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott contributed to this report.
™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
By CNN Political Unit