Sheldon Adelson, the American Jewish billionaire and close friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has asked U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to publicly demand the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, according to the U.S. website The Daily Beast.
Romney refused the request, saying he “could not consider the Pollard situation because he doesn’t have access to the classified information,” the report said, quoting an unnamed source.
According the report, Romney has also refused other Israel-related requests from Adelson, who reportedly also asked Romney to state that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are a waste of time because the Palestinians are unwilling to make peace, and also to make a firm commitment to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Romney has not said that the talks are a waste of time, and with regard to moving the embassy, he said he would make that move only in consultation with the Israeli government. Many believe that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would be widely seen as de facto recognition of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem.
The Daily Beast report, which was based on information received from a Republican donor and associates of both Adelson and Romney, seems to be aimed at demonstrating that Romney is not controlled by Adelson, even though the latter has already donated tens of millions of dollars to Romney’s campaign. These donations have generated substantial criticism, given Adelson’s right-wing views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Adelson spokesman Ron Reese told the website that the two men do not agree on everything and stressed that Romney does not expect any quid pro quos for his campaign contributions other than “to be invited to a Hanukkah party at the White House.”
Adelson, regarded as the richest Jew in the world, made his fortune from the gambling industry, and owns several casinos in Las Vegas and Macau. Adelson is also considered one of the American Jews closest to Netanyahu. Past investigative reports by Israeli media revealed that Adelson contributed to Netanyahu’s prime ministerial campaign in 1996. Adelson owns the Israel Hayom newspaper, which promotes Netanyahu’s positions.
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