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February 10, 2013 1:33 pm

Netanyahu on Obama Visit: We Have Agreed to Discuss Iran, Syria and the Peace Process

avatar by Max Elstein Keisler

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Prime Minister Netanayhu at his weekly cabinet meeting. Photo: Screenshot.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced at today’s weekly cabinet meeting that he has agreed to discuss three key issues with President Obama during the US president’s upcoming visit to Israel, according to a statement sent to reporters. The items on the agenda will be “Iran’s attempt to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” the “unstable situation in Syria and its consequences for the security of the region” and  “efforts to advance the peace process.” In the statement Netanyahu added that he “[welcomes] President Obama’s intention to visit Israel” and that it “will be a very important visit that will emphasize the strong alliance between Israel and the US.”

The planned upcoming trip is Obama’s first to Israel as US  president, although many high level US envoys have visited the country. Obama has been sharply criticized by some in the pro-Israel community for not having visited Israel during his first term while spending time in other regional countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In January, the president conditioned a visit to Israel on “diplomatic progress.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu is in the process of forming a new coalition government, and Israeli officials believe that this, as well as the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear sites, are the motivations for Obama’s visit. Unnamed officials told Israeli Army Radio Sunday that “Obama is concerned that the prime minister will decide to attack Iran now when he is backed by a new government and can establish a new security cabinet,” and that the purpose of Obama’s visit is to prevent Israeli action. According to the reports Obama sent a direct a message to Netanyahu saying “Don’t attack Iran, let me handle matters with the Iranians according to my understanding, and if necessary I will take action, we have capabilities that you do not.”

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