Netanyahu: I'm Not Backing Romney

The two stood side-by-side during Romney's visit to Israel on July 29, as Netanyahu called again for the threat of more serious, perhaps military intervention in Iran.

Romney responded in the affirmative, noting their "friendship which spans the years," and telling the Israeli prime minister, "Your perspective with regards to Iran and its efforts to become a nuclear capable nation are one which I take with great seriousness. I look forward to chatting with you about further actions we can take to dissuade Iran from their nuclear folly."

The release of secretly recorded tapes from a Romney fundraiser in Florida provided even more evidence of strong personal and political ties. Seeking to assuage donors' concerns about campaign tactics and the staffers drawing them up, Romney rattled off his advisers' bona fides.

"I have a very good team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants, a couple of people in particular who've done races around the world," he said. "I mean, they work for 'Bibi' Netanyahu in his race. So they do these races and they see which ads work and which processes work best."

There are, in fact, longstanding connections between Romney and Netanyahu's closest consultants. Dan Senor, Romney's most prominent foreign policy aide and a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion, reportedly worked with a top Netanyahu aide Ron Dermer to choreograph their July meeting.

Dermer, the American-born adviser to Netanyahu Tablet Magazine calls "the prime minister's alter-ego" and credits with having "done more to shape Israel's relationship with the United States, its Arab neighbors, and the Palestinians over the past few years than any man aside from the prime minister himself," was the source for the July 2 New York Times article that first revealed Romney's plan to meet with the prime minister during his trip.

"He's a strong friend of Israel and we'll be happy to meet with him," Dermer said. "We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we're sure it will only deepen that."

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