News Column

Obama to Visit Israel on March 20

March 11, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama's three-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian areas is to begin on March 20, Israel said Monday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Obama was to be welcomed by President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem and have dinner with the premier.

He is scheduled to visit the central West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian officials on March 21.

On the following day, he will lay a wreath at the grave of late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 by a radical opposed to his peace moves with the Palestinians. Obama will also tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum before departing from Tel Aviv.

Obama would also see a presentation of Israel's Iron Dome short-range missile interception system, co-funded by the US.

Haaretz newspaper quoted US officials as saying Obama would not announce a new peace initiative, or attempt to arrange a three-way meeting between himself, Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The paper said the Obama administration had adopted a "new approach," which indicated a "sobering-up" regarding America's ability to influence what happens between Israel and the Palestinians.

There have been no peace talks for most of Netanyahu's term in office. The prime minister is expected to form a new coalition this week after leading in the January 22 elections.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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