Conflicting Reports on Obama Intentions for Israel Visit

February 7, 2013 11:42 am 1 comment

Israeli PM Bejnamin Netanyahu (left) with President Obama (right). Photo: wiki commons.

The announcement Tuesday that U.S. President Barack Obama would visit Israel has set off speculation as to what he is aiming to accomplish while there. There have been conflicting reports that his intentions revolve around resuming peace talks between Israel and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, rumors given credence Wednesday by Israel’s outgoing deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon, who said that Obama wants to host a summit between Netanyahu and Abbas.

Michael Oren tried to dispel the idea of “Obama-as-peacemaker” when he told MSNBC: “The White House has made very clear that the purpose of the trip is to strengthen an already historic bond between Israel and the United States. I think it sent a powerful message to the Middle East at a time of great uncertainty and upheaval throughout the region, and I think that is the purpose of the trip,” Oren said

Aaaron David Miller, a former a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations, posits Obama’s visit revolves around the idea that a face to face meeting with Netanyahu would do the strained relationship between the two some good.

“Here’s why Obama’s going. Four years in, the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has become increasingly dysfunctional, and as leaders of close allies, they simply can’t afford not to find a better way to communicate. It’s also smart politics,” he writes.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro made statements Wednesday that fell somewhere between both camps.”President Obama is not coming with conditions or demands. He is coming to confer with all our partners about problems and challenges we are dealing with in the region.” He said Obama would not seek “a specific result” in any discussions related to “bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiation table.”

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