Obama in IsraHell: Our alliance is eternal

U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Wednesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed that America’s alliance with Israel is “eternal” as he touched down in Tel Aviv for his first trip to the country since taking over the White House four years ago.
Obama touched down aboard Air Force One at Tel Aviv airport, and was met by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
He landed as hopes of reviving direct talks remain increasingly distant following the swearing-in of a new Right-leaning Israeli coalition on Monday whose dominant partners have no ambition to reopen negotiations with Palestinians. The Telegraph


“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our two nations,” President Obama said in brief remarks on the airport tarmac after Mr. Peres and Mr. Netanyahu both praised Washington’s support for Israel. NY Times
Obama did not mention the Palestinians by name, referring instead to Israel’s “neighbor.” Nor did he allude to Iran or Syria, the other top items on the trip’s agenda. NY Times
Many Palestinians are hostile to Obama, believing he failed to live up to early pledges to halt Israeli colonization of the West Bank and tried to obstruct their quest for recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations. The Guardian
Obama and Netanyahu were due to hold five hours of talks. Despite the lack of personal warmth between the two leaders it will be the tenth time they have met face to face since both took office in early 2008. No other world leader has clocked up as many meetings with Obama. The Guardian
On Tuesday, scuffles broke out between anti-Obama protesters and police near the Muqata, the presidential compound in Ramallah where Thursday’s meeting is due to take place. Many posters bearing Obama’s face have been torn or painted over. The Guardian
Talks between the U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, were expected to focus on Iran, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The president will also travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian leaders. The Guardian
Peres told him that “Your visit here is a demonstration of the profound relationship between our two countries.”
The White House said it does not expect significant agreements to come out of the trip, in which Obama will also visit Jordan. Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Edward Djerejian says the trip is a chance to improve U.S. relations with Israelis and Palestinians and clarify where the United States stands on the tumultuous events of the Middle East. USA Today
Obama was driven almost immediately to a nearby hangar to inspect a battery of the Iron Dome missile system. NY Times
Every year, The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyists in the U.S. guarantee billions of dollars in military aid for Israel. Israel receives more than $3 billion from the U.S. in direct foreign assistance each year.
The U.S. boycotted the UN debate on Israeli illegal settlements on Monday which concluded Israel’s “creeping annexation” of the occupied West Bank violates Palestinians’ rights.
Washington said it was “extremely troubling” that the UN Human Rights Council would even hold a hearing, saying it proved “bias” against Israel.

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