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March 8, 2013 7:07 am

Obama to Jewish Leaders: No ‘Grand Peace Plan’ Coming on Israel Trip

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Jewish leaders meet with President Obama.

President Barack Obama said in a meeting with American Jewish leaders on Thursday that he does not intend to propose a “grand peace plan” on his upcoming trip to Israel, but that a peace effort might be launched within the next “six, nine or 12 months,” the Associated Press reported.

“The president noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues—including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region, and the peace process,” said a source with knowledge of the meeting, according to Reuters.

Several Jewish groups in attendance contacted by confirmed that the meeting with Obama was off the record. Some groups, however, did issue public statements on Thursday’s gathering.

“On behalf of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet with the President about his upcoming trip to Israel and the Middle East,” said JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman. “As Jews and as Americans, we are proud to see our President visit our ancient homeland and engage with the Israeli people. The President’s trip is yet another demonstration of the continued strength of the deep and historic bonds between the United States and Israel.”

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“President Obama reiterated his unshakeable support for Israel and explained that his upcoming trip will be focused on discussing with his Israeli counterparts the critical issues facing the Jewish state, including Iran, the peace process, and Syria,” said National Jewish Democratic Council Chair Marc R. Stanley.

Obama’s prior White House meetings with Jewish leaders have not passed without controversy. In a March 2011 gathering with delegates of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Obama reportedly told Jewish leaders to search their souls over Israel’s seriousness about making peace.

In May 2012, Obama did not attend the annual Conference of Presidents gathering at the White House because he was at the NATO Summit in Chicago the same day. That same month, however, it was reported that he attended a meeting with nine foreign policy editors—some known for being highly critical of Israel—who discussed Afghanistan, Israel, NATO and the G8 Summit at Camp David.

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