Nearly half of Benjamin Netanyahu's donors also gave money to Mitt Romney or the US Republican Party


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The Independent Online

Nearly half of those who contributed to the hawkish Israeli premier’s political campaigns also gave money to presidential candidate Mitt Romney or to the Republican Party, underscoring the shared common ground between the two men.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Romney have more in common than just their financial backers. Long-time acquaintances from their time together at Boston Consulting Group, they see eye to eye on many issues, including the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and in maintaining the status quo in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mr Netanyahu’s famously chilly relationship with President Barack Obama has deteriorated, meanwhile, over his criticism of Washington’s handling of Iran, and many believe that the Jewish leader is betting on a Romney victory.

Israel’s liberal Ha’aretz newspaper studied the donations made to Mr Netanyahu during his battle for the leadership of his Likud party in January, and found that 37 of Mr Netanyahu’s 46 donors were American, and that 19 of those also contributed either to the Republicans or to Mr Romney.

The donors, who provided a total of $318,000 to Mr Netanyahu, did not include a single Democrat.

Among Mr Netanyahu’s biggest donors was Ronald Plotkin, CEO of the jobs website. He gave $9,200 to the Israeli leader, and $60,000 to the Republican party in the last two years’ running, and $5,000 to Mr Romney.

Other shared donors included Roger Hertog, a well-known Jewish American philanthropist, and Nira Abramowitz, who along with her husband, Kenneth, funds the Israeli Prize for Media Criticism, usually given to those who attack left-leaning media.

Oddly enough, American Jewish casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has promised up to $100 million to the 2012 Republican campaign, did not give money to Mr Netanyahu. But he is no less influential in Israeli politics, bankrolling Israel Hayom, a right-wing freesheet seen as fawning towards the prime minister.