While Mitt Romney has embarked on an overseas tour that included a well-received visit to Israel, the Obama campaign/White House has sought to play up its relationship with the Israelis. The president granted Israel more security funding for missile defense just prior to Romney’s visit.
But as Romney departs and heads back to the United States, out comes the longstanding conflict between the Obama administration and Israel. The president who called for Israel to return to its indefensible 1967 borders, and who has not visited Israel at all during his presidency, broke with the Jewish state today regarding sanctions against Iran.
“Sanctions are having a significant impact on Iran and its economy,” said Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.
But Netanyahu said on Sunday that the sanctions have not had the intended purpose of slowing Iran’s nuclear program “by one iota.”
“We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota,” Netanyahu said in a meeting with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The remark was interpreted as a thinly-veiled attack on President Barack Obama, who has trumpeted his administration’s leadership on international sanctions.
When pressed by a reporter over Netanyahu’s comments, Rhodes said the sanctions are changing the calculus for Iranian leaders in determining whether to continue with their nuclear program.
“We do see the sanctions having an effect in terms of sharpening the choice for the Iranian government,” he said.
For its part, Iran responded to Romney’s trip by mocking him with a thinly veiled anti-Semitic remark.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling a visit to Israel by U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney as “kissing the foot” of the Jewish state to boost his bid for the White House.
Ahmadinejad did not specifically name Romney, but his comments were an unmistakable jab at the Republican contender’s stop this week in Israel. Romney strongly backed Israel’s drive to stop Iran from possibly seeking nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the claims.
Ahmadinejad questioned why Romney would make “concessions to get some pennies for (his) campaign?”
Ahmadinejad made the comments during a speech Tuesday broadcast on state TV.