With Romney on his way, Obama approves new aid to Israel

Last week, with heavy bipartisan support, Congress passed a bill affirming various routes of strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. Earlier today, President Obama signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, as well as authorizing $70 million in military assistance — affording him the perfect opportunity to try and counter some of the barbs coming his way from the staunchly pro-Israel crowd in light of Mitt Romney’s trip overseas. See, guys — he has done something concrete!

The legislation “underscores our unshakeable commitment to Israel,” Obama said as he signed it into law in the Oval Office. He also announced an additional $70 million in military aid intended to support the expansion of Israel’s short-range rocket defense system, Iron Dome. …

“As many of you know, I have made it a top priority for my administration to keepen cooperation with Israel across the whole spectrum of security issues, intelligence, military, technology,” Obama said Friday. “In many ways what this legislation does is bring together all the outstanding cooperation that we have seen really at an unprecedented level between our two countries to underscore our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security.” …

“I hope that as I sign this bill once again everybody understands how committed all of us are, Republicans and Democrats, as Americans to our friends in making sure that Israel is safe and secure,” he said.

The Romney camp has been steadily accusing Obama’s White House of being less-than-steadfast in their attitude toward Israel, and let’s all hope that Romney’s visit to Israel will be perhaps a wee bit smoother than his his somewhat clumsy social graces in London — but, according to BuzzFeed anyway, all this back-and-forth may very well be just for the benefit of America’s very vocal pro-Israel factions. Who knows what the consensus might be, but at least a few senior Israeli officials don’t see many consequential differences in Romney and Obama’s actual policies:

“What’s important for us is policy — and we have little to criticize about what President Obama has done, and what Mitt Romney promises to do,” said one top security official who would only discuss American politics on the condition of anonymity.

Other current and former Israeli officials interviewed by BuzzFeed this week echoed a similar sentiment.

While Romney has accused Obama of allowing “daylight” between the White House and Israeli leaders and pledging to make Israel a stop on his first presidential foreign trip, Israelis say they are flattered by the attention, but don’t see a major difference in the outcome of the election.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relationship with Obama may at times be icy, but “it works,” said a diplomatic official.

Hmm. I see what they mean: Israel enjoys bipartisan support in America while our president and his challenger fight to show who can be a better BFF to the Jewish state; where’s the downside? But Krauthammer maintains that Obama’s longtime attitude toward Israel hasn’t been quite as rosy as the White House is trying to paint it:

And then there is Israel, the most egregious example of Obama’s disregard for traditional allies. Obama came into office explicitly intent on creating “daylight” between himself and Israel, believing that by tilting toward the Arabs, they would be more accommodating. …

In Israel, Romney will undoubtedly say nothing new. He’ll just reiterate his tough talk on Iran’s nuclear program. But I suspect he’ll let the Israelis know privately that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that his hawkishness signals his readiness to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, his real intent is to signal that, unlike Obama, he is truly committed to permitting Israel to do what it needs to defend itself. This will be welcome news to a nation that has never asked anyone to fight on its behalf, just a green light to defend itself without impediments or veiled threats from its friends.