|President Obama & Prime Minister Netanyahu tour the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls|
Obama Visit: A Love Fest with Policy Complications -Barry Rubin, PhD
Palestinian anti-Obama demonstrations showed the "gratitude" amassed for Obama's previous support by branding him as a Zionist, imperialist running dog.
But one detail drew my close attention. The demonstrators sang a song called "America is the head of the snake." That's the song that then PLO leader Yasir Arafat led in singing at the Palestine National Council meeting almost 45 years ago. In other words, after 45 years of effort and especially the last 23 years in which America tried to help create a Palestinian Arab state, it has made zero progress toward winning Palestinian support or recognition of America's aid and efforts. The same story, of course, will be reproduced regarding Obama's efforts to show his respect for Islam and his empathy for Islamism.
How would Obama's speech play in Ramallah or Gaza? -Herb Keinon
US President Barack Obama delivered a passionate peace paean to a warm and excited crowd in Jerusalem on Thursday. That peace will arrive when a similar address receives a comparable ovation in Ramallah, let alone Gaza.
There were some other correctives to the Cairo speech Thursday as well. He didn't compare Palestinian suffering to that of the Jews, as was implied in the Cairo address, and he did not compare the Palestinian cause to that of the US civil rights movement, as was also hinted to in Cairo. Indeed, his reference Thursday to the US Civil Rights movement was how the Passover story served that movement as an inspiration.
Obama and Netanyahu Show Unusual Solidarity - Scott Wilson
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed an unusual degree of solidarity on a set of shared national security concerns that have divided them in the past.
The warm display by Obama and Netanyahu comes against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Middle East. Signs of a stronger U.S.-Israel relationship may put new pressure on Iran's leaders, who Obama said must be convinced that it is not in their interest to pursue a nuclear weapon.
Rockets Hit Israel as Obama Visits - Neri Brenner
Five Kassam rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza on Thursday morning, on the second day of President Obama's visit to Israel. One rocket hit the backyard of a house in Sderot.
Behind the Obama Visit - Ron Ben-Yishai
Washington is seeking to create an axis of stable Sunni countries to counter the Iran-led radical Shiite axis, which is seeking hegemony in the Middle East - with Israel as a quiet partner in this axis. For the sake of this cooperation Obama will likely ask Netanyahu to show restraint and calm in the Palestinian arena and ask Abbas to refrain from attempting any empty diplomatic provocations that will anger Israel and foment unrest in the territories.
With regard to Iran, there are fewer disagreements between Israel and the Obama administration. There is no argument over the intelligence information indicating that Iran's nuclear program is at an advanced stage. The sides also agree in principle on the need to exhaust the non-military means and that the West should have a credible military option that will be activated should Iran cross the red line, although the U.S. and Israel are still at odds over the definition of this red line.
The Americans argue that more than a year will pass before Iran reaches the point where it has the ability to produce a nuclear weapon within weeks of Khamenei's order. Israel claims a decision must be made this coming summer, or in the autumn at the latest - when Iran will have enough 20%-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear warhead.
Why Is Obama Going to Israel? - Michael Oren
The U.S. is economically, militarily and strategically engaged in the Middle East. And Israel keeps chaos from completely engulfing the area. Without Israel, jihadist forces which have killed Egyptians in Sinai and fired rockets at Jordan would spread unchecked as far north as Lebanon.
Israel has effectively deterred Hizbullah, confining its regional influence and blocking its stated vision of creating "a greater Islamic republic governed by...Iran." Syria long dreamed of annexing Lebanon but refrained for fear of Israeli intervention. If not for Israel, Lebanon as we know it might not even exist. In 1970, when Syria threatened to invade Jordan, Israel mobilized its army in Jordan's defense.
The Palestinian Authority as well remains extensively dependent on the Jewish state. Israel facilitates international trade for the Palestinians, supplies them with water and electricity, and furnishes thousands of jobs. And without Israeli warnings that spurred the international community to act, Iran would have long ago become a nuclear power.
The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S.
(Los Angeles Times)