WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A new report states that the purpose of President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel this spring will be to tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to not launch a military strike against Iran.
Israel’s Army Radio reports that the president fears Israel will launch a strike sooner rather than later against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“Obama fears that the prime minister will decide to strike in Iran now, at a time when he is backed by a new government and can set up a new security cabinet in which two reported [ministerial] opponents of military intervention — Dan Meridor and Benny Begin — will no longer be present,” the Army Radio report stated, according to The Times of Israel. Meridor and Begin lost their Knesset seats during last month’s elections.
The president will reportedly reiterate to Netanyahu that the United States has military “capabilities” that the Jewish state does not have.
“Obama decided to come himself and deliver to Netanyahu the direct message, ‘Don’t strike at Iran. Let me oversee the contacts with Iran as I see fit. If necessary I’ll take action against them. We have capacities that you do not have,’” the report stated, according to The Times of Israel.
Obama will also try to push Israel back to the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority in order to get a peace deal done, but White House officials caution that no breakthroughs are expected on that front.
“That is not the purpose of this visit,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a press briefing last week.
“This is a trip the President looks forward to making that is timed in part because we have here obviously a second term for the President, a new administration, and a new government in Israel, and that’s an opportune time for a visit like this that is not focused on specific Middle East peace process proposals,” Carney said.
The president will also visit Palestinian territories during the visit.
Tension has mounted between Obama and Netanyahu over the past year over how to deal with Iran and Israel continuing to build settlements in Palestinian-occupied land.
This will be Obama’s first trip to Israel while in office. He visited Jerusalem while running for office in 2008.
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