Although details of President Barack H. Obama’s visit to Israel remained murky, former Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is convinced that Obama will be meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas – together. In a post on his Facebook page Thursday, Ayalon said that plans for such a summit meeting were being woven “even as I write this.”
Obama is set to arrive in the region on March 20, and will visit Israel, the PA, and various countries in the region. White House sources said that Obama would not be bringing a new peace plan with him, and that the agenda was still open.
The last time Obama came to the Middle East, he skipped Israel altogether; this time, Obama seems to be trying to “correct his error by visiting Israel first when he comes to the Middle East,” Ayalon wrote. “The purpose of the visit, it appears to me, is to restore the United States to its chief role in the Mideast peace process,” a role the U.S. has let slip over the past several years as it has been wrapped up in dealing with the financial crisis.
“After the polite talk, Obama and Bibi will get down to cases,”Ayalon wrote; specifically “joint actions to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the neutralization of the major threats against Israel in the wake of the fall of Bashar al-Assad and the unrest in the Arab world, and restoring the peace process. These are the three topics the two will speak about, in the order of their importance,” he wrote.
Although the White House claims that it has nothing “special” planned for this trip, “when the leader of the most powerful country in the world leaves his country for a visit abroad, it’s logical to expect that some understandings are already in place. There is no doubt that at this moment there is active and spirited discussion on a Netanyahu-Abbas-Obama summit, that perhaps even King Abdullah of Jordan will attend as well.
“The news of the visit even while coalition talks are going strong, shows that the world is not waiting for us,” Ayalon added.