Washington, 27 Rabiul Akhir 1434/9 March 2013 (MINA) – U.S. President Barack Obama signaled there would be no big Middle East peace initiative on the table when he arrives in Israel later this month for his first visit as U.S. leader.
Obama met American Jewish community leaders at the White House as he prepares for the trip, and told his guests that he was not aiming to resolve any specific policy issue in Israel, a U.S. official said, according to Al Arabiya report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Saturday.
The White House had previously taken steps to quiet rumors that Obama would use the visit to re-launch a US brokered effort to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians, following a failed initiative in his first term.
Obama did however say in the meeting that he would outline a “framework” that could evolve into a more concrete US diplomatic effort in the year to come, an outside person familiar with the conversation said.
U.S. officials have styled the trip as an effort to reconnect with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he had a delicate relationship during his first term and to coordinate on key issues like Iran and Syria.
Obama’s outreach to prominent figures in the Jewish community could help ease any residual tensions following the 2012 election campaign. Republicans had accused the Democratic president of not being sufficiently supportive of Israel, Washington’s closest ally in the Middle East.
“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 U.S. 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.”
While the White House has denied that Obama will present his own peace plan during the trip, the president made clear he will not shy away from the issue and left open the possibility of amore concerted diplomatic push at a later time.
Obama told the leaders he wanted to speak directly to the Israeli people and, in a major address in Jerusalem, will urge them to work for peace with the Palestinians, the source said.(T/P05/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)