Obama to Travel to Israel, Ramallah, Jordan
President Barack Obama will depart on March 20 for a four day visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan on his first overseas trip of his second term. Obama will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday and will hold separate meetings with the two before a press conference in the evening with Netanyahu. Thursday he will hold a bi-lateral meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and later with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah before traveling Friday to Jordan for a meeting with King Abdullah II.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told Josh Rogin that Obama is interested in traveling to Jordan because of its involvement in the Syria crisis and his desire to see ongoing reforms there ensure its long-term stability. “We believe that the Jordanians are very sincere and committed to a reformed agenda, and the president wants to reinforce the need to make continued progress in that regard — because ultimately reform is the path to lasting stability in terms of a government that is a partner of the United States and responsive to the Jordanian people,” Rhodes said.
It is unlikely that Obama will announce any new Mid East peace initiative, and the New York Times has billed the foreign trip as a symbolic gesture to Israel. It reports: “The symbolism is even more central on this trip because the White House is playing down hopes that Mr. Obama will carry with him a new initiative to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Lacking substance, the optics of the president’s visit will loom all the larger…The centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s message to Israelis, officials said, will be that he supports Israel.”