Sunday, July 29, 2012

On the 2d day of his trip to Israel, Republican presidential candidate Romney prays at the Western Wall and gives a public address to 300 select supporters in Jerusalem (calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel). He vows to support Israel’s right to defend itself and calls for Israel and the U.S. to use ‘‘any and all means’’ to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He does not repeat the comment his foreign policy aide, Dan Senor, made en route to Israel that Romney would ‘‘respect’’ an Israeli decision to strike Iran unilaterally, nor does he mention the Palestinians or the peace process. Romney meets with his former business colleague PM Netanyahu, who makes kind remarks but is seen (e.g., WP 7/30) as being careful not to take sides in the election. He also meets with Israeli pres. Peres and PA PM Salam Fayyad; the Romney camp cancels at the last minute a planned meeting with Labor party officials. In an interview with CNN later in the day, Romney says that the U.S., in consultation with Israel, should move its embassy to Jerusalem. In response, White House spokesman Josh Earnest says: ‘‘The view of this administration is the capital should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties. That’s the position held by the previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican.’’ (NYT, WP, WT 7/30; WP 7/31; WJW 8/2)

Timed with Romney’s visit to Israel, the Obama admin. leaks a story to the Israeli daily Ha’Aretz that NSA Donilon briefed an Israeli official (some say PM Netanyahu, though Israel explicitly denies this) over dinner in Israel earlier in 7/2012 on ‘‘U.S. contingency plans for any attack on Iran,’’ emphasizing that the U.S. is making serious preparations for a military strike if such action is deemed necessary. A Netanyahu spokesman says Donilon did not share any operational plans. Donilon’s office says it does not comment on private meetings. (WT 7/30)

In Tunis en route to Israel, U.S. defense secy. Leon Panetta says Israel and the U.S. are united in support of strong sanctions against Iran. (NYT, WP 7/30)

Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah and 1 nr. Jenin in the morning; patrols in 2 villages nr. Jenin and Ramallah in the evening. Jewish settlers block roads and stone Palestinian cars nr. the evacuated settlement of Homesh nr. Jenin. (PCHR 8/2; OCHA 8/3)