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Obama heads back to the Middle-East with expectations less than high

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Obama heads back to the Middle-East with expectations less than high


The US president, Barack Obama, is preparing for his first official trip to the middle east this week.

But the whistlestop tour of Israel, the West Bank and Jordan is not expected to yield much in the way of concrete results.

Israel’s government has frequently riled the White House, lately with a declaration to plan thousands more settler homes.

For some, a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians appears further away than ever.

Washington pollster James Zogby told euronews: “I think he (Obama) underestimated the politics, the need to do politics, in particular to shore up his domestic base. And the result is very high ambitions, but not a lot to show for it at the end of the day. And it’s a tragedy, actually.”

Obama’s high ambitions had equally high hurdles. AIPAC is one of America’s most powerful lobby groups, and the ‘I’ stands for Israel. The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told this year’s conference there’s no room for compromise.

Senator Robert Menendez, who is a Democrat, told the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee: “There will never be any daylight between the United States and Israel on my watch, never. Not on my watch!”

There seems little give-and-take in the air even in Washington.

As well as Jerusalem, Obama is due in Ramallah.

A former adviser to President George W. Bush, Elliott Abrams told euronews: “In these four (Obama) years it has really been the Palestinians who have been refusing. And I think the President must be frustrated with that, and he has got to try to persuade them, even if there is construction and settlements, guys, it is in your interest to get to the negotiating table.”

Today’s United States has played a less active role in the middle east compared to previous administrations – Libya and Syria are testament to that. Not everyone sees it as a good thing.

Zogby went on: ““We went from a position of influence to where we are today, a bystander at best. We cannot exercise the influence that we would have during the Clinton years. George Bush destroyed that for America.”

This is the first foreign trip of the president’s second term. The last time he was in Israel was as a campaigning Senator Obama, attempting to show the world that, if elected, he could handle the role of world statesman.

Our Washington correspondent Stefan Grobe reports: “Obama’s trip is designed to boost his image in the region. The President has not shown much enthusiasm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his first term. Now the people in the Middle East need to be reassured that the President is working on a solution that is good for all parties involved.”

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