“What a magnificent country,” Palin wrote in the guest book of the prime minister’s official residence. “God shall bless you. The bond between us will increase and strengthen.”
Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and possible 2012 presidential candidate, visited Israel earlier this week.
On Sunday, Palin and her husband, Todd, took a tour of the Western Wall tunnels led by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch, and accompanied by Likud MK Danny Danon.
Rabbi Rabinovitch told Palin the prayers of non-Jews as well as Jews take on a special resonance when uttered at the Wall.
“Israel is absolutely beautiful, and it is overwhelming to see and touch the cornerstone of our faith, and I am so grateful to get to be here,” Palin told reporters.
Palin wore a large Star of David and told Danon she keeps flags of Israel “on my desk, in my home, all over the place.”
Danon was clearly impressed with Palin.
“When we toured near the Kotel and in the tunnels near the Holy of Holies, she told me clear things without hesitating,” he told Israel National News.
“She understands the importance of the place for the Jewish people and even asked me ‘Why do you keep apologizing all the time?’ “
Danon said he “explained to her the mistakes made by [then-Defense Minister] Moshe Dayan in 1967 and our mistakes in not fulfilling our rights in the Temple Mount and the Old City,” referring to Dayan’s decision to hand back to Muslim authorities the keys to the Temple Mount immediately after the Six-Day War.
Palin, Danon said, “really connected to the story of the Jewish nation. She knows the material but there’s nothing like standing in front of those big stones and hearing about the connection. I know that she loves Israel, and after a visit like this, she has a personal connection to the Western Wall.”
Several other Republicans thought to have their eye on the White House have recently visited Israel, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
David Ricci, an expert in U.S.-Israel relations at Hebrew University, told the London Daily Mail that visits by high-profile Republicans send a clear signal to President Obama that Israel is of interest to the GOP “and he shouldn’t push [Israel] around too much.”
Asked whether Palin’s visit signaled anything about her intentions for 2012, Ricci said that “It’s an indication that she is keeping her options open.”
Palin and her husband closed out their two-day visit by dining in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife.
The left-wing lobbying group J Street criticized Netanyahu for hosting Palin while refusing to meet with the organization’s executuve director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, and other J Street officials who happened to be in Israel at the time of Palin’s visit.