"I think, by and large, you can just look at the things the President has done (about Israel) and do the opposite." Mitt Romney, addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition (1)
If Romney really means what he said, here are some of the policies that he would "by and large " reverse:
1. Palestinian State: George W Bush was the first American president to call for a Palestinian state, and Barack Obama promised in Cairo that he would set one up. Israeli President Shimon Peres also advocates such a state, as did then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Benjamin Netanyahu says he is for it, too, but with some deal-killer conditions.
2. Settlements: US policy has opposed Israeli settlements in the territories seized during the 1967 Six Day War for more than forty years.(2) Some presidents, such as George H W Bush and Barack Obama have been more strident about them than others.
3. Annual aid: The US provides Israel with about $3 billion of military aid per year, nearly all of it spent on American weapons systems. The current level of aid was set during the George W Bush administration, and has been continued by Obama, with strong congressional support.
4. The Iron Dome: President Obama has provided this anti-missile defense system to Israel free of charge to protect the Jewish state from rockets. The initial phase cost the US about $200 million.
In short, Obama has maintained military and security co-operation with Israel, while urging a halt to construction of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. If Romney were elected president this Fall and "did the opposite" he would be repudiating not only the policies of Barack Obama, but also those of previous Republican presidents. Despite his campaign rhetoric, I do not believe that Mitt Romney has any intention of abandoning US support for a "2-state solution", which means an Arab state in the West Bank (and possibly in Gaza).
The most Romney would do as president to move American policy closer to Israel would be to back-offfrom trying to micro-manage the Israel-Palestinian relationship. The inconvenient truth is that the parties are very far apart (on Jerusalem, refugees and settlements) and the US lacks the clout to bring them together. ( That is why Obama was foolish to promise a Palestinian state that he cannot deliver. )
Then why doesn't Romney specify that he would stop harranguing Israel over the settlements, but otherwise continue Obama's policies on the Arab-Israeli conflict? Because that would be tacitly admitting that Barack Obama has done some things right, and that would be too bitter a pill for him to swallow. Besides, you win more votes by promising a revolution than a tweak.
Gerald S Glazer
(1) Associated Press, June 17, 2012.
(2) Despite the League of Nations Mandate of 1922, which called for a Jewish homeland in "Palestine", which then included the lands that are now Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan, without geographical limitation.