US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney arrived in Israel on Saturday night for a short visit and a strong reaffirmation of support for the Jewish state.
Romney was scheduled to meet multiple times with Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, as well as sit down with President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and opposition leader Shaul Mofaz.
Romney also scheduled a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Palestinian officials criticized the fact that Romney would not meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, but the Republican's spokesperson said his tight schedule only allowed for meeting with one Palestinian representative.
The exaggerated preference for meeting with Israeli officials was seen as an effort by Romney to set himself apart from President Barack Obama, whom most Israelis view as tilting in favor of the Palestinians.
Last week, Romney told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom that the Jewish state deserves better treatment than it has received from Obama, and suggested that should he win the presidency, American pressure on Israel to meet hard-line Arab peace demands will significantly decrease.
Criticism from a Romney spokeswoman over last week's refusal by an Obama White House official to identify Jerusalem as the capital of Israel also indicated that if elected president, Romney may finally approve a 1995 congressional decision to move the US embassy to the real Israeli capital.
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