Report: Obama Not Planning to Jump-Start Mideast Peace Process on Visit

Saturday, 16 Mar 2013 10:27 PM

By Todd Beamon and Greg Richter

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President Barack Obama said last week that he did not intend to begin a new process when he visits Israel this week because the Israeli government is not prepared to make concessions — and, as such, there was no point in exerting pressure at this time.

The revelation came in a meeting between the president and Arab-American leaders, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Saturday.

The president remains frustrated with the diplomatic stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians — and his goal is to share that with Israeli citizens in his speech on Thursday, Haaretz reports.

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Changes in the Middle East, which include the country’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, require Israel to rethink its ways, Haaretz reports.

“As you move toward more democratic, more representative and responsive governments, Israel needs to take into account the changing dynamic and the need to reach out to public opinion across the region,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said at a news briefing last Thursday, according to Haaretz.

The president considers a peace agreement as much an American security interest as a Palestinian and Israeli one — and Israel had to take Arab public opinion into account, Rhodes said.

Meanwhile, a new poll shows that Obama has much work to do — at least with Israelis — if he wants to win them over during his trip this week, according to Politico.

Only 10 percent of the Israeli population view him favorably, the publication reported, citing a poll by the Maagar Mohot Institute and the Israeli newspaper Maariv. The poll also showed that 32 percent don't like him but do respect him, 19 percent look at him unfavorably and 17 percent have a highly unfavorable opinion of him.

One third of those polled think Obama supports Israel, while 38 percent think he is hostile toward the country. Fourteen percent say he is indifferent.

Obama arrives in the Mideast on Wednesday for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Politico said.

Much of the criticism from Israelis stems from the difference of opinion from the White House on how to handle a possible nuclear threat from Iran and on Israeli settlements.

Obama also will speak to a group made up mostly of students in Jerusalem to reach out to younger people. The president will conclude his trip with a visit to U.S. ally Jordan, according to the publication.

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