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Romney: Obama 'set back' peace prospects

  |   Dec. 7, 2011 at 11:44 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said Wednesday President Barack Obama's policies had "emboldened Palestinian hard-liners" and "set back" peace prospects.

Speaking at a Republican Jewish Coalition candidates' forum in Washington, Romney said his first trip abroad as president would be to Israel, while noting Obama has yet to visit the longtime U.S. ally, The Washington Post reported.

"His policies have emboldened Palestinian hardliners and immeasurably set back the prospects for peace in the Middle East," the former Massachusetts governor said.

Romney took aim at Obama's policy toward Israel and its prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, with whom the president's relationship has been strained by a failure to restart Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

"In the past three years, Obama has instead chastened Israel," Romney said.

He asserted Obama had been "timid and weak in the face of the existential threat that Israel faces from Iran," and pledged "on my watch, Iran's ayatollahs will not be allowed to get nuclear weapons" -- a promise, the Post noted, that Obama has also made.

Obama says he has been a consistent supporter of Israeli security needs and political interests but many Republicans dispute that claim.

The most recent Gallup poll shows 51 percent of Jews surveyed approve of Obama's job performance -- the lowest rating among Jews during his term, the Post said.

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