Mitt Romney held a brief meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad this afternoon, but in Ramallah it is being viewed as a small gesture in an Israel-dominated trip.
Romney raised Palestinian eyebrows by asking only to meet Fayyad and not Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He requested the meeting in Jerusalem and not in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority and an integral part of Barack Obama’s schedule when he visited the Middle East on his 2008 campaign trail. And his meeting with Fayyad was scheduled to be far briefer than his meetings with Israeli leaders.
Officials in Ramallah say matter-of-factly that they expected nothing different, seeing Palestinians and Israeli-Palestinian relations as very marginal during this trip, as they think it’s just about courting the Jewish vote.
One senior Palestinian Authority figure, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject, told the Forward: “He’s coming to launch his electoral campaign and play for the Jewish vote as it tends to go to the Democrats” and said that the peace process “hardly” features in his priorities for the visit.