THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has scheduled a phone call for late morning Friday with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
President Obama refused to meet with Netanyahu on his trip to the United States, and the Israeli government presumably thought a meeting with the opposition candidate in the absence of one with the sitting president would be too provocative. But there was apparently an eagerness on the Israeli prime minister's part to talk with Romney in order to help win as broad American support as possible for the red lines he outlined in his United Nations speech with respect to the Iranian nuclear program.
As for Romney, he expects to explore Netanyahu's understanding of the red lines, and also, we are told, wants to hear Netanyahu's perspective on developments elsewhere in the Middle East.
Apparently at the request of both principals, neither of their offices has put a hard-stop on their schedules for this call, so the discussion is likely to be both substantive and substantial.
It will be interesting to hear the readouts tomorrow from both the Netanyahu and Romney camps after the "principals only" phone call—and to see the White House reaction, as well.
In the summer, Netanyahu hosted Romney in Israel for dinner, hours after Romney delivered an address in Jerusalem.
“Mitt, I want to thank you for those very strong words of support and friendship for Israel and for Jerusalem that we heard today in your speech by the walls of Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told Romney as he welcomed him to the prime minister’s residence.
“Jerusalem today is marking the destruction of the city thousands of years ago. As you see it’s been rebuilt by the Jewish people, open to all the three great faiths, vibrant, bustling, and as you said, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and Jerusalem will always be the capital of Israel. So welcome to Jerusalem, Mitt.”
Netanyahu and Romney have known each other for almost 35 years, having worked together at Boston Consulting Group in 1976.