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Warm reception expected as Mitt Romney lands in Israel

By Amy Teibel

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, July 28 2012 11:21 p.m. MDT

"I will receive Mitt Romney with the same openness that I received another presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama, when he came almost four years ago, almost the same time in the campaign, to Israel," he said when asked about the visit last Sunday on Fox News. "We extend bipartisan hospitality to both Democrats and Republicans."

Romney — like most politicians who make the trek to Israel — is likely to face questions such as whether he would endorse calls by some fellow Republicans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and his stance on Israeli calls for Washington to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Romney has consistently accused Obama of putting too much pressure on Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and of being too weak on Iran.

Three years after he came into office with Israeli-Palestinian peace at the top of his foreign policy priorities, Obama recently acknowledged that his efforts there have failed. Peace talks have been deadlocked more than three years.

Obama, who tried to persuade the Arab world that he was an honest broker, lost the Palestinians' trust by refusing to follow up tough talk with action when Israel defied his call to halt settlement construction on occupied land Palestinians seek for a future state.

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has refused to resume negotiations without a settlement construction freeze and went ahead with a statehood campaign at the United Nations, over the president's objections.

Palestinians fear Romney would be softer on Israel than Obama. Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi said that would doom any chance for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"American foreign policy in the region is shaped by Israel and determined by what's good for Israel, and not even what's good for the U.S.," Ashrawi complained.

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