Obama’s Trip to the Middle East

By:  Warren Mass
Obama’s Trip to the Middle East

During President Obama's visit to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan this week, he has met with Israeli and Palestinian officials concerning topics such as Middle East peace, Israel's security, Syria, and Iran.

As a message on the White House website notes about the president’s current Middle East trip, from March 20-23: “In the first foreign trip of his second term in office, President Obama is visiting Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan.”

Shortly after Air Force One arrived at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on March 20, Obama stated: "We share a vision of Israel at peace with its neighbors."

Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed the U.S. president, who was making his first visit to Israel. "A world without America's leadership, without her moral voice, would be a darker world. A world without your friendship, would invite aggression against Israel," said Peres.

Also on hand to welcome Obama was Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him: "Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East. Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel's sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat."

Obama and Netanyahu toured a mobile missile battery brought to the airport for Obama’s visit. The battery is part of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system that protects the nation by intercepting rocket attacks. The United States has provided Israel with hundreds of millions dollars in aid to develop the system.

An AP report observed that “Obama sparred frequently with Netanyahu over the Palestinian peace process during his first term.” 

Obama and Netanyahu met with reporters at a joint press conference at the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Netanyahu opened the conference with a statement in which he described “the wide range of issues” he hoped to discuss “that are critical to both our countries. And foremost among these is Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

The prime minister said that his “view is that in order to stop Iran’s nuclear programs peacefully, diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by a clear and credible threat of military action.”

Netanyahu also stated that he and Obama had discussed the situation in Syria: “That carnage has already resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 people and the suffering of millions. We also share a determination to prevent the deadly arsenal of weapons within Syria from falling into terrorists' hands.”

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Photo of Shimon Peres (second left), President Obama, and Benjamin Netanyahu (right): AP Images

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