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Why is Mitt Romney going to Israel?

The Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, aims to attract Jewish voters by traveling to Israel and meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July.    

By Reuters / July 3, 2012

In this file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney celebrates after winning the Florida primary election, in Tampa, Fla. Romney is planning a trip to Israel later this month.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File

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WASHINGTON

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will travel to Israel in late July for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aimed at fleshing out his foreign policy credentials.

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Romney will be overseas in late July to attend the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in London. His campaign often promotes Romney's leadership of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002 as a key part of his biography as he tries to unseat President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election.

A former governor of Massachusetts, Romney lacks foreign policy experience. He would like to attract support from Jewish voters who traditionally back Democrats, and he has accused Obama of putting the U.S. relationship with Israel at risk in pushing Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians.

A campaign aide said Romney would meet with Netanyahu on his visit. The New York Times said Romney would also meet Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Israeli President Shimon Peres, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem.

Obama angered the Israelis a year ago when he embraced a goal long sought by the Palestinians, that the state they seek in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip should largely be drawn along lines that existed before the 1967 war in which Israel captured those territories and East Jerusalem.

Romney said in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition in December that Obama has proposed that Israel adopt "indefensible borders" and had been "timid and weak in the face of the existential threat of a nuclear war" from Iran.

Netanyahu and Obama have had a thorny relationship and the right-wing Israeli leader has come under pressure in Washington not to take unilateral military action against Iranian nuclear facilities suspected of being part of a project to produce nuclear weapons.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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