Why is Obama going to Israel?

 

The antipathy between Israel's Prime Minister and America's President is well documented, but this week Benjamin Netanyahu, who openly supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 election, will receive a visit from Barack Obama - the first one the Democrat has made in office. What's on the agenda?

Plenty. Links between the US and Israel are too firmly entrenched for a total freeze-out. Iran looms in both Netanyahu and Obama's mind, according to Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller. Obama "doesn't want to be the American president on whose watch Iran either gets the bomb or he needs to bomb."

The two-state solution should also feature in discussions. A move to the political centre in recent elections just might offer "a now-or-never opportunity", says Mary Dejevsky in her Independent column. There is a majority in favour of recognising Palestinian statehood and existing side-by-side. Obama must push his role as negotiator.

Israel's ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, trumpets his employer's pro-American stance as the key motivation for Obama's visit. Were Iran to carry out its threat and "wipe Israel off the map", the Middle East would be "fragmented by raging civil conficts, overrun by terrorists and primed to explode with the deadliest weapons."

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