Barack Obama’s visit to Israel for the first time as US President on Wednesday, march 20, is high on symbolism but low on expectations.
He brings with him no new solutions for peace between Israel and the Palestinian territories, no new strategy for ending the war in Syria and no new plan to prevent a nuclear armed Iran.
This flies in the face of the policy in his first term in office when aides said he would only visit Israel if he has something concrete to accomplish.
The carefully choreographed three-day trip instead aims at resetting the President’s often strained relations with Israelis and Palestinians.
For Saeb Erekat the Chief Palestinian negotiator it seems to be starting well:“We appreciate President Obama’s visit to Palestine,” he said “President Obama in his second term could have chosen any place on Earth to go but he chose to come to Palestine, Jordan and Israel and this reflects the deep commitment by President Obama to see the implementation of the two-state solution on 1967.”
One of President Obama’s first acts will be to inspect the US-funded Iron Dome anti-missile battery which helps to protect Israeli’s from Hamas rockets coming from Gaza.
This is touted by the US as a prime example of its commitment to Israeli security.