Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Obama to visit Israel in spring

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to travel this spring to Israel for the first time since he took office as he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try to move past the friction of the past four years now that both have won re-election.

By making Israel a destination on the first overseas trip of his new term, Obama hopes to demonstrate support for the Jewish state despite doubts among some of its backers. But the trip seems designed to signal a new start in a fraught relationship rather than as an ambitious effort to revive a stalled peace process.

"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, including of course Iran and Syria," Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said Tuesday.

Carney said Obama would also travel to Jordan and the West Bank. The Israeli media reported that he would arrive on March 20, but the White House would not discuss any dates for the trip.

Netanyahu's office said a visit would be "an important opportunity to underscore the friendship and strong partnership between Israel and the United States."

The relationship between the two leaders has been edgy for years over issues including settlement construction and how to stop Iran's nuclear program. Although neither said so publicly, each man may have secretly rooted for the other's opponents in recent elections, only to find that they both prevailed and now have to live with each other.

But while Obama won a clear victory in November, Netanyahu emerged from elections last month in a weakened state, winning enough seats to retain office but forced to recruit centrist lawmakers for a coalition that may temper his policies. He has until March 16 to present his new government.

Obama is not expected to unveil concrete proposals for bringing Israelis and Palestinians together during his visit nor initiate a specific new peace process. But advisers hope that just by showing up and talking about these issues he will show that he is not walking away from the dispute.

Dennis Ross, a former Middle East adviser to Obama, attributed the trip to "a desire to connect with the Israeli public at a time when he can go and not have high expectations about having to produce something."

Also on the agenda for the trip will be Iran and the ongoing strife in Syria that threatens to descend into a wider regional conflict. Israel last week struck a convoy of anti-aircraft weapons inside Syria that it feared was being moved to Hezbollah forces.

Obama to visit Israel in spring 02/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 11:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Forecast: First day of fall brings more showers, humidity to Tampa Bay

    Weather

    More moisture will filter into the Tampa Bay area on Friday, the official start of fall, allowing for higher rain chances through the day and beginning half of the weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  2. Video shows Polk child-care workers berating autistic child

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are searching for two childcare workers after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old autistic child.

    Police are searching for two childcare workers - Kaderrica Smith, 26, and Alexis Henderson, 20 - after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old Autistic child in Winter Haven. [Winter Haven Police Department]
  3. Trigaux: Tampa Bay household income tops $50,000 but still makes us look poor

    Personal Finance

    The good news is Tampa Bay's median household income finally crawled above $50,000 last year. The bad news is that figure — officially $51,115 by new U.S. Census Bureau data — still puts the Tampa Bay region as the poorest of the nation's 25 largest metro areas.

    Tampa Bay still has the lowest median household income among the 25 most populous metro areas, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
[Times]
  4. Oh, Florida! Irma's gone, but she left behind plenty of lessons for us

    Columns

    I don't want to make light of the misery and death that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Florida this month. A lot of it was ugly, and some of it was downright criminal. We saw greed and pettiness on …

    A Fort Myers woman who'd recently undergone a double-organ transplant painted a sign that said, "HOT SINGLE FEMALE SEEKS SEXY LINEMAN TO ELECTRIFY HER LIFE" and sure enough, she got her power turned back on. [Photo from video]
  5. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.