Obama signs Israel military aid bill on eve of Romney visit

Recent public opinion polls show Obama with a commanding lead over Romney among Jewish voters—but less than his advantage over John McCain in 2008. And, with both sides predicting a hard-fought election, neither candidate is writing off any potential gains.

In a "fact sheet" on the signing, the White House underlined Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's May 2012 praise for Obama's "ironclad commitment to Israel's security." "He rightly said that our security cooperation is unprecedented," the prime minister told the American Israel Political Affairs Committee. "And he has backed those words with deeds."

Netanyahu, who was to play host to Romney on Saturday , has had a frequently tense relationship with the American president. In November 2011, Obama told French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who branded Netanyahu "a liar," that  "you've had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day."

Obama's more conciliatory message got a boost from Israel's veteran Ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, who expressed "profound gratitude" to the president for signing the bill. Oren dubbed the legislation "the most comprehensive commitment on the part of the United States to the short- and long-term security of its unshakable ally, Israel."

"The Enhanced Security Cooperation Act sends an unequivocal message of support to the people of Israel at a time of great uncertainty throughout the entire Middle East, and reminds the region of the unbreakable bond between our two nations," Oren said in a statement.

The military aid bill sailed through Congress—just two "no" votes in the House of Representatives in May, a voice vote to clear the Senate last week.

White House press secretary Jay Carney denied politics played a role in the bill signing. "The timing of the passage and signing of this legislation was not up to us, but up to Congress," he said.

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