President Barack Obama will visit Israel for the first time as president this spring, reports on Monday said.
Obama visited Israel last as a senator seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. The New York Times quoted White House Spokesman Jay Carney saying that the president accepted an invitation to visit Israel during a Jan. 28 conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and that the trip will be a chance to “discuss the way forward” on problems in the region, including the civil war in Syria and Iran's production of nuclear materials.
Once again it’s that time of the year when the president considers granting clemencies and once again the name of Jonathan Pollard has surfaced. The former U.S. Navy civilian intelligence analyst was arrested in 1986, pleaded guilty the following year to spying for Israel and was sentenced to life in prison. He is still there.
David Harris is leaving his job as president of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
"With the confidence of knowing that I’ve accomplished key goals here at NJDC that are central to our mission, I’m very much looking forward to new professional challenges and directions," Harris said in a statement released Wednesday after he announced his decision to the body's board.
Harris has helmed the group since 2009 and has worked to counter Republican efforts depicting President Obama as unfriendly to Israel.
Now that the dust is settling, both literally and figuratively, from Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, it is an appropriate time to reflect back on that very difficult if brief campaign, and particularly on how it ended– at least for now.
At press conference in Bangkok, Obama says Hamas responsible for intensification of violence.
President Obama told the Egyptian and Turkish leaders that a resolution to the Gaza-Israel violence must begin with an end to rocket fire into Israel.
"If we’re serious about wanting to resolve this situation and create a genuine peace process, it starts with no more missiles being fired into Israel’s territory, and that then gives us the space to try to deal with these longstanding conflicts that exist," Obama said Sunday at a news conference in Bangkok, the first leg of his tour of Asian countries.
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed "de-escalation" of the Gaza conflict.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu called the President today to provide an update on the situation in Israel and Gaza," said a White House statement released late Frdiay. "The Prime Minister expressed his deep appreciation to the president and the American people for the United States’ investment in the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which has effectively defeated hundreds of incoming rockets from Gaza and saved countless Israeli lives."
President Obama told Palestinian Authority President Abbas that the United States remains opposed to unilateral bids to achieve statehood status at the United Nations.
"In his discussion with President Abbas, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security," a White House statement said Sunday evening. "He also reiterated the United States' opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations."
-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of 13 world leaders that President Obama called to thank for congratulatory messages following his reelection.
"In each call, he thanked his counterpart for their friendship and partnership thus far and expressed his desire to continue close cooperation moving ahead," the White House said Thursday in a statement.
In his own statement, Netanyahu said he told Obama that his reelection was "a vote of confidence in your leadership."