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No Friendly Pretenses between Republican Candidate and Palestinians

If Mitt Romney is elected to be the next American president, relations between his administration and the Palestinian Authority will begin on a negative note. Seeking to benefit from tension between President Obama and voters who make support for Israel a priority in their decision-making, Gov. Romney visited Israel for a day-and-a-half during which time he highlighted his friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and avowed an administration four-square in synch with Israeli positions, staking out policies contrary to Palestinian demands, including his assertion that Jerusalem is the exclusive capital of the Jewish state. Romney’s rhetoric infuriated Palestinian leadership, Chief Negotiator Sa’ib Ariqat dismissing the Republican’s statements as “absolutely unacceptable.” Ariqat called a Romney comparison of the Israeli and Palestinian economies “racist.” Nevertheless, there were those who suggested that Romney over-played his hand by promising to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if elected. Israelis remember George W. Bush’s promise to make the embassy move his first act as president, but instead signed the national security waiver to avoid doing so every six months during his eight years in office. In an interview with CNN, Romney left himself wiggle-room, saying moving the embassy is the “ultimate” goal of American policy. Disappointing many Israelis, Gov. Romney apparently made no comment regarding Jonathan Pollard, whose release on humanitarian grounds is a major issue in Israel.