Obama and Romney talk Israel in final presidential debate

By Sahar Zivan, October 23, 2012
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Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

At last night's third presidential debate, focusing on foreign policy, both President Obama and Governor Romney took the opportunity to reaffirm their strong support for Israel.

President Obama referred to Israel as "a true friend and our greatest ally in the region" while Governor Romney said that under his government, America would "stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily."

When asked by CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer, who was moderating the debate, about the Arab Spring in Egypt, Mr Obama responded: "They [Egypt] have to abide by their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel's security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels."

On a United States response to a potential conflict between Iran and Israel, Mr Obama said: "I will stand with Israel if they are attacked. And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history."

Mr Romney criticised Mr Obama, saying that "the tension that existed between Israel and the United States" during his term was "very unfortunate."

The candidates sparred on issues including Iran and Egypt, as well as questions of human rights and terrorism. When asked if the debate would affect how they vote, a CNN poll showed that half of those questioned said it would not, with 25 per cent saying they were more likely to vote for Mr Romney and 24 per cent for Mr Obama. A CBS news poll conducted after the debate gave the victory to President Obama by a narrow margin, with one in four declaring it a tie.

Last updated: 3:22pm, October 23 2012