Obama vs. Romney 101: 4 differences on Israel

President Obama's positions on Israeli-Palestinian peace have rankled Israel’s conservative coalition government, while Mitt Romney insists he would be a better friend to Israel. Here are some of the issues on which the candidates differ.

2. What place for the peace process?

Obama bucked the pattern in American diplomacy by making the conclusion of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, with establishment of a state of Palestine, a priority from the outset of his presidency, rather than waiting until the end of the term, as other presidents had done.

But what started out as a can-do endeavor by a young administration soon bogged down in recriminations as Obama sought an extension of a freeze on Israeli settlement construction – and Israel answered by approving settlement expansion in the West Bank and new housing construction in Arab East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as their future capital.

Obama tried again in May 2011, saying negotiations should be relaunched on the basis of Israel’s 1967 borders (with mutual land swaps), but that initiative went nowhere – other than deepening tensions between Obama and Mr. Netanyahu.

Those tensions were soon matched by rough waters between Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who tried to do an end run around the moribund US-brokered peace process by seeking recognition of the state of Palestine in the United Nations Security Council. The move failed, but it also embarrassed Obama by forcing him to stand before the world and say “no” to something – the state of Palestine – that he was on record as supporting.

Romney says Obama brought the “disaster” of the Palestinians’ UN action on himself by not standing firm all along with “America’s best friend in the Middle East.” At a Republican presidential debate on Sept. 26, 2011, he famously tarred Obama with “repeated efforts over three years to throw Israel under the bus.”

In the “what I would do differently” column, Romney suggests he would be much more prone to threaten a cutoff of US aid to the Palestinians if they did not meet US demands – for example, that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Romney adviser John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush, suggests a President Romney would use US leverage to force the Palestinians to drop their conditions for restarting talks (such as a freeze on settlement construction) and reach a peace deal with Israel.  

2 of 4

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.