Obama to Visit Israel
United States President Barack Obama is planning his first trip to Israel as president, the Reuters news agency reports. Obama did not visit Israel during his first term.
According to Channel 10 news, Obama is planning to land in Israel on March 20. The White House has not yet confirmed a date.
The visit was reportedly planned following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s victory in the elections. Netanyahu has been tapped to head the next coalition government.
Obama is expected to focus on reviving diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is believed he will visit Ramallah during his stay.
Netanyahu has publicly named the resumption of Israel-PA talks as one of his top priorities for his upcoming term. The head of Israel’s second-largest party, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, has declared that his party will join the government only if there are serious efforts to resume negotiations.
The PA has so far refused to talk with Netanyahu unless Israel agrees to several conditions, including a full construction freeze everywhere east of the 1949 armistice line, including much of Jerusalem.
PA leaders have also demanded that Israel release terrorist prisoners, allow weapons imports, and agree in principle to giving the PA all of Judea and Samaria, with possible land swaps, for the creation of a new Arab state.