Tags: obama | israel | first | visit

Obama to Visit Israel for First Time During Presidency

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 03:39 PM

President Barack Obama will visit Israel in a bid to help restart the stalled peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post reports.

The president spoke to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in January about a trip to Israel, although no specific date has been set.

It would be the first presidential trip to Israel since Obama assumed the White House in 2009.

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White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said, “The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern.”

But the newspaper said the trip is widely seen as an effort by Obama to “kick-start a moribund peace process between Israelis and Palestinians amidst other roiling regional concerns, such as the Arab Spring and Iran nuclear program.’’

No date has been fixed for the trip, but Israeli media is saying it is likely to be in late March.

Obama was criticized for not visiting Israel during his first term, and was last there as a presidential candidate in 2008.

Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to make his first visit to Israel next week.

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