Wednesday, February 06, 2013
The White House has confirmed that President Obama plans to visit Israel for the first time during his presidency in early March. According to White House spokesmouth Tommy Vietor, th evisit to Israel will be part of a swing through the region that will include stops at Ankara, Amman, Riyadh, Cairo and Ramallah.
“The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.
New Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to trailblaze for the president by coming to Israel next week according to the AP. Along with the president's itinerary, this should give you a clue as to what's going on.
President Obama and PM Netanyahu are like an unhappy couple whom dislike each other but agree to stay together and try to work out their difficulties because of mutual interests.
Anything's possible, but I doubt that the president is coming to Israel to reaffirm any 'deep and enduring bonds'. They'll discuss Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Assad's chemical weapons although I'm also certain that US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro's assurances that the president won't be introducing any new peace proposals with the Palestinians during his visit are fairly untruthful.
President Obama, for reasons best known to himself has a major jones when it comes to those Arabs whom identify themselves as Palestinians. They simply can't do anything wrong no matter how outrageous, but as even the usually reliable Lefty Jeffrey Goldberg realizes, a cobbled together peace deal with the Palestinians would be meaningless in terms of easing the tensions sweeping the region.
In fact, it wouldn't be at all out of character for President Obama to present Israeli PM Netanyahu with an ultimatum to cave in to the Palestinian's demands before heading to Ramallah to plot strategy with Abbas in true community organizer fashion. But if that happens, it will be in the aura of horsetrading with Netanyahu for future U.S. support on the above issues which at least is something of a step in the right direction..On the positive side, by announcing that he's coming over, the president is signalling that he's at least resigned to the prospect of dealing with Netanyahu for the next few years, which is a vote of confidence of a sort and should strengthen Bibi's hand domestically and in coalition building.
Kerry, of course, is going there as an advance man to bird dog, try to influence the makeup of Israel's coalition government and attempt to assess how far Netanyahu can be pushed...
Given the history of this president and Israel and the sort of cabinet appointments he's been making, it would be naive to assume anything else but a continuing uneasy relationship. But what will be more interesting is is what the two men come up with to deal with the real issues of mutual importance in the region
It will be interesting to watch how this goes down.