Obama Meets With Jewish Leaders Prior to Israel Trip
President Barack Obama met with Jewish community leaders at the White House on Thursday, in anticipation of his upcoming trip to Israel and signaled that there would be no monumental US-brokered peace initiative on the table when he arrives in the region later this month.
While rumors have been circulating regarding whether Obama would use his trip to forge a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, following a failed initiative in his first term, the president said that he was not aiming to resolve any specific policy issue in Israel, an American official told the AFP news agency.
Obama did however say during the meeting that he would outline a "framework" that could evolve into a more concrete US diplomatic effort in the following year.
"The President reiterated America's unshakeable support for Israel and thanked the leaders for role they play in strengthening ties between the two nations," the US official said.
"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."
A source with knowledge of the meeting told the news agency that Obama reaffirmed that he will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.
The president said however that he did not intend to indulge in "chest beating" rhetoric on Iran, stressing that he wanted to preserve “face-saving diplomatic space” for Tehran to compromise in international talks on its nuclear program, AFP reported.
The White House did not immediately provide a list of Jewish community leaders who took part in the meeting, which was not on the president's public schedule.
However one participant, Marc Stanley, chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council confirmed that the president had said he would discuss the Iranian threat, the Israeli-Arab peace initiative and the Syrian crisis during his trip.
"President Obama is a true friend (of) our community and said that he looks forward to a dialogue with the Israeli people," Stanley said.
Obama is due to arrive in Israel at the end of this month in his first trip to the Jewish state since taking office in 2008.