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Saudi King to Visit Obama Before Netanyahu

Saudi King Abdullah, to whom Obama bowed down last year, will visit him one week before Netanyahu. The timing may be designed to pressure Israel.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/21/2010, 5:54 PM / Last Update: 6/21/2010, 6:19 PM

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah will visit U.S. President Barack Obama on June 29, setting the stage for the July 6th visit of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the White House.

White House officials said President Barack Obama "looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries, as well as a range of common concerns related to Gulf security, peace in the Middle East, and other regional and global matters."

The king’s visit comes a year after President Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia, where his act of bowing down to the monarch was widely criticized in the United States.

The timing of the visits may not be coincidental. Since 2002, the Arab world has held out for Israel to accept the “Saudi Peace Initiative” without any changes. The proposal includes Israel’s acceptance of the immigration of approximately five million Arabs who claim that they or their ancestors lived in the Land of Israel.

Under the Saudi initiative, Israel would surrender all of the land restored to the Jewish State in the Six Day War in 1967. The areas include Jerusalem neighborhoods where 300,000 Jews live, especially the Old City, whose focal point is the Temple Mount and its Western Wall.

The plan calls for the 22-member Arab League to "establish normal relations with Israel within the framework of this comprehensive peace."

Israel and most of the Western world had considered the initiative a basis for compromise when it was first proposed, and it lay dormant until former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert revived it three years ago.

Virtually all Jewish Israeli politicians, from the entire political spectrum, consider the so-called “right of return” principle an attempt to bring about a Jewish minority in the country and a de facto end of Israel as a Jewish state.

However, the United States considers the Saudi kingdom as the key for a regional Middle East peace as well as a key ally in any future military action against Iran, whose nuclear ambitions threaten the Arab world as well as Israel.

King Abdullah, whose personal income is estimated at $17 billion annually, last visited the United States in 2005, when George W. Bush was president. He was also present at the United Nations in New York City in September 2000, exactly one year before the 9/11 terrorist attacks that have been widely linked to terrorists from Saudi Arabia.

The planned visit by King Abdullah was routinely reported in Saudi Arabia, where he is referred to as the “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.” The king will also visit Morocco, Canada and France.