‘Obama will cancel visit if no new Israeli coalition by March 16′

As Netanyahu struggles to build a majority government, Israeli TV claims imminent, much-anticipated first presidential trip may now be in doubt

Adiv Sterman
The Times of Israel

President Barack Obama will call off his imminent visit to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not managed to form a new governing coalition by March 16, an Israeli television report claimed on Thursday night.

Obama is due to arrive in Israel on March 20 for a working visit, his first as president. March 16 is the legal deadline for Netanyahu to successfully complete coalition negotiations, or inform Israel’s state president, Shimon Peres, that he has failed to do so.

Confirming the trip almost four weeks ago, Israeli and US officials made clear that the president was timing the visit so as to ensure Israel would have a new government in place by the time he arrived. Israel held elections on January 22; Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu emerged as the largest slate, and Netanyahu was formally charged with the task of building a coalition on February 2. The assumption was that he would have mustered a viable majority ahead of the president’s arrival.

But Netanyahu’s efforts to cobble together a stable coalition have been immensely complicated by an alliance between the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties…

…The enforced cancelation of Obama’s first visit to Israel as president would be hugely embarrassing for the Jewish state, whose leaders have long urged Obama to come. Israel’s alliance with the United States is by far its most important international partnership. The two leaderships have said they would consult on efforts to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive, the instability in Syria, ways to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, and other vital issues…

Read the entire article at The Times of Israel.

H/T Mike Evans and the Jerusalem Prayer Team

Related: America’s Withdrawal from the Middle East under the Obama Doctrine

…Mr. Smith characterized the Obama administration’s Middle East policy as one of “extrication” from the region. The major problem with this policy, he argued, is that “vacuums are filled by other people, and not always filled by friendly powers.”

Nor has the administration explained why it no longer deems the Middle East a region of vital interest. If, for example, the U.S. becomes a net exporter of energy in the near future and is less reliant on Middle Eastern oil, the administration has yet to make this case with the public. Instead, its policy of “leading from behind,” adopted during the Libyan intervention, is a prime example of the vacuum left since the toppling of Qaddafi as the decision to leave the newly elected Libyan government to fend for itself has led to instability…


Read the whole thing.

UpdateObama plans to extract timetable for Israeli pullout from West Bank

U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Israeli sources said Obama, scheduled to arrive in Israel on March 20, wants a detailed Israeli withdrawal plan from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the president’s visit. The sources said the Israeli plan would be considered in what could be an imminent U.S. initiative to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014…


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