Is Barack Obama's Visit to Israel a Sign He Wants Mideast Peace Progress?

With Bibi Returning to Power, Trip Could Jumpstart Talks

Been a Long Time**: Barack Obama, shown here on his last visit to Israel in 2008, will make his first trip to the Jewish State as president.
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Been a Long Time**: Barack Obama, shown here on his last visit to Israel in 2008, will make his first trip to the Jewish State as president.

By JTA

Published February 05, 2013.
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“The president is interested in connecting with the Israeli public. It allows him to show he cares about the peace issues, but allows him to do so while discussing all the issues, including Iran, Syria and Egypt.”

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. negotiator who now is vice president of the Wilson International Center for Scholars, says both Obama and Netanyahu are being driven to a rapprochement by exigency: Netanyahu by his weakened political position and Obama by preserving his legacy.

“One guy is caught in circumstances which require improvement, and the other guy knows if he wants to get anywhere he’s going to have to figure out if he can work with Bibi,” Miller said, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

Debra DeLee, the president of Americans for Peace Now, said in a statement that Obama’s visit will give him an “opportunity to directly address the people of Israel and lay out a compassionate, pragmatic vision for a future Israel that enjoys security and peace, and that it is a respected member of the community of nations.”

But Danielle Pletka, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, said if Obama is going simply to advance a peace process that many Israelis and U.S. lawmakers believe is stuck because of Arab intransigence, he’s running a fool’s errand. It would be more useful, she said, for him to use his Israel trip to discuss strategies at a time of Middle Eastern turmoil.

“If he’s president of the United States, he’s going to talk about Iran and Hezbollah and Syria,” Pletka said. “If he’s the president of Barack Obama’s dream house, he’ll talk about the peace process.”


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