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Obama Would Visit Israel During Second Term, Campaign Aide Says

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama will visit Israel in a second term if he’s re-elected, according to a campaign adviser.

Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Middle East, told reporters on a campaign conference call that voters can expect Obama to make the trip.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney leaves tomorrow for a trip abroad that’s scheduled to include stops in the U.K., Israel and Poland.

While Obama has stressed his commitment to Israel’s security, Romney has criticized the president for how he’s dealt with Israel’s adversaries, such as Iran.

Obama has also had public disagreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about issues such as limiting Jewish settlement construction in Palestinian areas as well as the approach to Iran.

During the Republican primary season, Romney accused Obama of repeatedly throwing Israel “under the bus” and said his policy toward the Jewish state would differ from the incumbent’s.

Obama won in 2008 with 78 percent of Jewish voters, according to national exit polls. With both campaigns forecasting a close election, the candidates are fighting for every constituency group.

Kahl dismissed criticism of Obama for not having visited Israel as president. Former President George W. Bush didn’t go to Israel as president until the last year of his second term, and former President Ronald Reagan never visited Israel during his eight years in office, Kahl said.

Obama last went to Israel as a presidential candidate in July 2008. While he hasn’t been there as president, that says nothing about his commitment to the country’s national security, Kahl said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julianna Goldman in Washington at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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