For the first time since he was running for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama will visit Israel this spring, the White House confirmed on Tuesday. Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Iran and Syria would be two of the issues Obama would discuss with the US’ regional ally. A date for Obama’s visit has not been released. The US President will also visit the Palestinians and Jordan.
Carney, according to a transcript of his comments on the White House website, said Obama’s visit to Israel was discussed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on January 28. Said Carney, “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.”
The two topics mentioned by Carney, Iran and Syria, both figure to be hot-button items by the time of Obama’s trip. Netanyahu last year warned Iran would be reaching red lines in its nuclear program by this spring or summer. As for Syria, there are reports that Israel has already struck Syrian weapons amidst fears they could reach terrorists such as Hezbollah.
Regarding Obama’s planned trip to the West Bank and Jordan, Carney said it would continue the President’s “close work with Palestinian Authority officials and Jordanian officials on bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest.”
The US has long been a key player in Israel-Palestinian negotiations and has provided hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to the Palestinians.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 6, 2013)