After outlining his foreign policy vision Friday at The Citadel, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney sat down with PBS's Judy Woodruff and discussed among the other issues, American's role in brokering the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and the role of the American administration in dealing with sensitive issues.
Regarding the traditional US disagreement, on building in the settlements, Romney takes a moderate position, sounding more like President George W. Bush, saying it will be a issue to discuss with Israeli Leaders in private:
JUDY WOODRUFF: This administration and most Western countries criticized the recent announcement by the Israelis that they were going to continue to build more apartments in Jerusalem, saying this is counterproductive. Do you agree with that?
"What I - what I believe is that when you have an ally that shares your values, as does Israel, that if you disagree with them, you do so in private. You don't want to in any way encourage the adversaries of your ally to assume that perhaps they can get a better deal by going around Israel and negotiating with you directly. And so I think it is a mistake on the part of the president, as he did at - in his first address at the United Nations, to criticize Israel for building settlements and not mentioning that Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into Israel."
JUDY WOODRUFF: Well do you think it's fine for - or do you think it's all right, acceptable for Israel to build housing settlements in any of the areas that were occupied in the 1967 war?
"Again, I would tell you that the role of a person running for president or a person who is president, in my view, is to stand by our ally and if we disagree do so in private. If I were to tell you that I disagreed I'd violate my own rule. And in this - in this case I believe that my opinions on Israel's posture in negotiating with the Palestinians would be something I would keep to myself and to Bibi Netanyahu and leaders of the minority, Tzipi Livni, and others.
That's something I would not share with the public. Instead, link arms with our allies and make sure that our public posture communicates our commitment to peace there. And recognize that some of the things Israel does, I'm sure, have negotiating elements to them and they do things from which they will strengthen their negotiating hand.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So voters, you're saying, don't need to know what you think about this? Is that what you're saying when you say it should be done in private?
"I think in dealing with a ally like Israel that's in a conflict with the Palestinians, where the two are, hopefully, at some point, going to negotiate progress there, that our job is not to tell Israel how to negotiate or how we would draw the line, but instead to publicly stand with Israel and to lock arms with Israel, not to show a dime's worth of distance between us.
Now, other candidates may have different views. That happens to be my view: that in a setting of this nature, particularly one as fragile as Israel right now - I don't think I've seen Israel in as fragile a setting as we're seeing them today. And this is not a time for America to be - to be dictating to Israel how they should negotiate."