Palestinians have not been impressed by a speech delivered by US presidential candidate Mitt Romney in which he detailed his foreign policy. In his address at the Virginia Military Institute Romney said that only a new president could restart the stalled Middle East peace process and blamed President Barack Obama for causing "a series of heated disputes at the United Nations".
Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi:
"President Obama failed precisely because of his bias towards Israel, and because he did not leave any "daylight" between American policy and Israel, between the U.S. and Israel. While Mitt Romney accuses him of leaving some "daylight" and that he will be even more biased towards Israel. So the problem with this policy is that he talks about it as a statement, as an abstractions, but he doesn't have a plan as to how to bring it about."
On the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme Israelis expressed their opinion that President Obama has failed to send a clear message that the US will not allow Tehran to develop nuclear weapons. The White House has repeatedly insisted that all options are on the table but that economic sanctions against Iran should be given time to work.
Jerusalem resident Yoav Ivgy:
"Romney is going to be better because he is not so, I think he is much more clear about this issue (Iranian nuclear programme). He is like black and white, it's not too much grey area as Obama. Obama doesn't say it clearly and truly in the way that Iranians will understand it and will stop this plan."
Israelis also commented on Obama’s overall approach to relations with the Jewish state in light of the widely held belief that the US President and Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu do not enjoy a close personal relationship. Conversely Romney and Netanyahu are reported to be friends dating back to their business careers before they entered into politics.
Tel Aviv resident Lon Cherryholms:
"I don't think Obama is an enemy of Israel, but he is not necessarily being the best friend of Israel like he should be. We are the most important nation in the Middle East right now, we are the only democracy in the Middle East. Why isn't Obama, like he didn't meet with (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu a week ago when he had free time, you know? So he is not pushing too much effort on it like he should be doing. And I think Romney, you know he is a Mormon, every Mormon I know is a supporter of Israel, and he is Republican. I know he will be a friend of Israel, I know he will support Israel, be a friend of Israel and will do what it takes to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will face off against one another in the final official Presidential election debate on 22 October which will likely feature discussion of Iran’s nuclear programme and US-Israeli relations. With US Jews and Christians both historically strong supporters of the state of Israel Romney will be seeking to capitalize on a perception that Obama has not shown clear support for one of the America’s strongest allies.