Updated: Report: Obama will travel to Israel

on 42 Comments

From a reliable source, none of this info confirmed:

An assistant to Obama’s foreign policy adviser Samantha Power told a delegation that Obama will be headed over to Israel, and one other country in the region to be decided.  Dates not identified.

Update: Peter Beinart says it’s not true, Obama has no travel plans. We’ll keep you posted.

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42 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    December 9, 2012, 1:21 pm

    huge news, if true..way to break it on mondoweiss.

  2. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    December 9, 2012, 1:27 pm

    ”Obama will be headed over to Israel, and one other country in the region to be decided.”

    Am I the only one who finds this sentence a bit funny? It’s like they’re saying, ‘Israel is the essential country, but all those Aye-rab countries are interchangeable. One set of towelheads is as good as another’.

    I strongly suspect the ‘other country’ will be either Egypt or Saudi Arabia, probably the former.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 9, 2012, 1:34 pm

      i imagine the other country will be in relation to all the latest propaganda about syria’s chemical weapons (huge propaganda push). there’s a story out about jordan’s “permission” which is somewhat of a joke, and also turkey. my hunch is, other than israel, it has to do with syria (which ‘analysis’ re chemical weapons, includes israel of course). could be qatar too, SA , egypt, any of those countries really.

    • piotr
      December 10, 2012, 3:41 am

      I recall that at some occasion Ronald Reagan had a need to make a meeting with “a foreign leader”, and since there was no much time, President of Latvia was brought to Washington on a short notice. Now I would recommend Cyprus.

  3. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    December 9, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Yeah, it occurred to me too that it might be Qatar. It’ll certainly be one of the ‘moderate Arab states’, that’s for sure. Not sure if Abdullah would want to be seen hosting Obama right now, given the recent upheaval in Jordan.

  4. American
    December 9, 2012, 1:43 pm

    Visit to Israel and ‘whoever” huh?

    Maybe it’s about Iran or maybe about both Iran and Palestine, which if it’s about both he will be visiting Saudi.
    If Walt is accurate and he probably is Saudi is in a nice little trap of their own. Blowing up Iran might keep their prices high so they can keep their street quiet but whose to say Saudi and some other oilies won’t be sabotaged also…if they can’t ship it out doesn’t matter what the price is.

    Oil, Iran, and stability in the Gulf: Why the Gulf states want to keep Iran in a box
    Posted By Stephen M. Walt

    We are often told that Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are deeply worried about Iran, and eager for the United States to take care of the problem. This is usually framed as a reflection of the Sunni-Shiite divide, and linked to concerns about Iranian subversion, the role of Hezbollah, and of course the omnipresent fretting about Iran’s nuclear energy program.
    I have heard senior Saudi officials voice such worries on more than one occasion, and I don’t doubt that their fears are sincere. But there may be another motive at work here, and Americans would do well to keep that possibility in mind.
    That motive is the Gulf states’ interest in keeping oil prices high enough to balance their own budgets, in a period where heightened social spending and other measures are being used to insulate these regimes from the impact of the Arab Spring. According to the IMF, these states need crude prices to remain upwards of $80 a barrel in order to keep their fiscal house in order.
    Which in turn means that Saudi Arabia et al also have an interest in keeping Iran in the doghouse, so that Iran can’t attract foreign companies to refurbish and expand its oil and gas fields and so that it has even more trouble marketing its petroleum on global markets. If UN and other sanctions were lifted and energy companies could operate freely in Iran, its oil and gas production would boom, overall supplies would increase, and the global price would drop.
    Not only might this new wealth make Iran a more formidable power in the Gulf region–as it was under the Shah — but lower oil and gas prices would make it much harder for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to stave off demands for political reform through social spending. Saudi Arabia could cut production to try to keep prices up, but that would still mean lower overall revenues and a budget shortfall.
    So when you hear people telling you how worried the Gulf states are about Iran, and how they support our efforts to keep tightening the screws, remember that it’s not just about geopolitics, or the historical divide between Sunnis and Shiites or between Arabs and Persians. It’s also about enabling certain ruling families to keep writing checks. Keep that in mind the next time you fill your gas tank or pay your home heating bill, or the next time somebody tells you the United States ought to think seriously about a preemptive war. ”

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      December 9, 2012, 3:21 pm

      ”So when you hear people telling you how worried the Gulf states are about Iran, and how they support our efforts to keep tightening the screws, remember that it’s not just about geopolitics, or the historical divide between Sunnis and Shiites or between Arabs and Persians. It’s also about enabling certain ruling families to keep writing checks”


      I get fed up hearing all the half-baked orientalist krap about this ‘Sunni-Shia divide’ as though there were something inevitable about it. In reality, as you say, the GCC countries’ rivalry with Iran has got far more to do with the mundanities of oil prices, and the fact that the conservative Arab states will do ANYTHING to prevent democratisation.

    • Keith
      December 9, 2012, 6:05 pm

      AMERICAN- “According to the IMF, these states need crude prices to remain upwards of $80 a barrel in order to keep their fiscal house in order.”

      They are not the only ones. All of the tar sands oil projects need at least $80/barrel to be profitable. Cheap oil would decimate the tar sands and collapse the Keystone XL, a project which Obama plans to pursue. There is more to this than meets the eye. Speaking of Obama and the tar sands, I include a link to a 10 minute video of Chris Hedges touching upon this and other issues as he maintains that Obama is worse than George W. Bush. It is damning indictment, well worth the time watching.

      • seafoid
        December 10, 2012, 12:47 am

        Obama is an emperor like Bush was but he isn’t deliberately keeping oil prices high. That has more to do with supply and demand. $20 a barrel would be far more suitable for obama’s plutocrat backers. It is hard for the global economy to grow when the key input is so expensive.

      • Keith
        December 10, 2012, 4:23 pm

        SEAFOID- “It is hard for the global economy to grow when the key input is so expensive.”

        Don’t be fooled by the logic of Economics 101, a poor guide to political economy in the past, present, or future, particularly during this period of financialization. The US government is actively involved in keeping the price of oil within a specified range, not too high so as to completely sink the economy, not so low as to threaten the Saudi Arabian economy and weapons purchases. Or oil company profits. Or the profitability of tar sands oil, along with natural gas from fracking, the empire’s hope for future energy independence. For empire, this is a prime geostrategic concern, probable environmental catastrophe notwithstanding.

        As for Obama’s “plutocrat backers,” they are busy intentionally destroying the economy to achieve strategic objectives. The austerity being forced upon the world is virtually certain to cause additional economic woe for the 99% as the economy goes into decline to permit additional fat-cat asset accumulation as well as the long sought shredding of the safety net. The American empire has more or less changed into the corporate financial empire as neoliberalism takes us towards neofeudalism and debt servitude for the 99%. Under these conditions, supply must be reduced to maintain a high price in spite of steady demand. Being able to control the price of oil is a critical geostrategic imperative. And while the poor economy may be devastating to the 99%, Obama’s “plutocrat backers” are doing quite nicely, what with record corporate profits in 2012. No, I don’t think the fat-cats are upset with Obama, who has done more for them than any Republican could even dream of.

      • American
        December 10, 2012, 11:52 am

        Interesting keith, thanks for link.

  5. Stephen Shenfield
    December 9, 2012, 2:53 pm

    I think Egypt must be the Arab country that Obama considers it most important to visit. Perhaps the hedging is because arrangements for the visit have not yet been agreed with the Morsi government.

    • Citizen
      December 9, 2012, 9:58 pm

      Egypt was my gut reaction too. Because the trip is all about Israel and who wants the slow melting of what was guaranteed for 30 years under Mubarak–with US direct aid to Egypt and Israel in a cement formula ratio that together still takes up 20% of all annual US foreign aid.

  6. HarryLaw
    December 9, 2012, 3:07 pm

    Its possible Palestine could be the other country.

  7. yourstruly
    December 9, 2012, 3:42 pm

    the president’s to visit israel

    once there, what’s he gonna say?
    “israel has a right to defend itself
    what’s more, palestinians must recognize israel’s right to exist”
    & justice for palestine?
    depends upon our* success in reaching the public with the facts on palestine/israel
    success being?
    palestine, just & free
    anything less than this

    *our = the justice for palestine movement’s

  8. ToivoS
    December 9, 2012, 3:52 pm

    This is a big story if confirmed. It would also be a mistake on Obama’s part . There is absolutely nothing positive and much negative that can come out of this. Unless, the US is willing to publicly change its policies, or their perception, a visit to Israel will simply be another massive demonstration of America’s unwavering fealty to the Zionist cause. A visit to Egypt at the same time is definitely not going to happen. If Mursi received Obama after a massive demonstration by the US of its love for Israel, Mursi would be openly branded as an Israeli collaborator. Even his followers in MB would turn on him. The more I think about this story the less likely it appears to be right.

    • Ellen
      December 9, 2012, 7:05 pm

      Agreed. “Dates not identified.” So it could be just noise.

      How safe would this U S President be in Israel or any country in the region where many in the Israeli government would love to provoke the US to demonize or attack?

  9. Sumud
    December 9, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Obama is going to explain to the world why apartheid is OK if the perpetrator is Israel.


  10. Helena Cobban
    December 9, 2012, 4:29 pm

    In re Harry above, I’ve been arguing since Obama got re-elected that he should visit Jerusalem, as such, and indeed make TWO distinct visits there: One to a significant Israeli place in West Jerusalem and the other to Orient House in East Jerusalem. He should make clear ahead of time that he’ll only go to West Jerusalem if it is understood that the visit to East Jerusalem will be conducted only under Palestinian auspices. Plus, in both places, he should speak clearly about the need for the conflict to be resolved on the basis of international law.

    Are these legitimate demands to make of him? You bet! How could any decent person argue against any of them?

    Certainly, if he were to do this, it could be a game-changer on the order of Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977. (Sadat, as I recall, also insisted on visiting occupied East Jerusalem in addition to the Knesset– in his case, it was the Dome of the Rock, and Al-Aqsa.)

    Anyway, for my whole argument on this point, check out the archived video of the Pal. Ctr’s annual conference on Nov. 9.

    • seafoid
      December 10, 2012, 12:50 am

      Didn’t uzi landau shut down orient house and seize all of its files when Sharon sent the tanks into.the west bank in 02/03? Is it open again?

    • pabelmont
      December 10, 2012, 11:03 am

      Helena: This is an important point (two visits to two parts of Jerusalem, one in former Israel, one in occupied Palestine), thanks for it. But the second point is that when he’s there he must choose whether to [1] lay down the law or [2] just lie down. At best it’s an anti-Sadat moment: a moment of truth for Israelis, with the thrill of a risk of suicide for Obama. At worst, but can it get any worse?

  11. Les
    December 9, 2012, 4:41 pm

    Does Obama plan to kneel to Netanyahu or just bow down to him?

  12. seafoid
    December 9, 2012, 5:06 pm

    Obama to travel to nepal. The anpac is the most influential.lobby in dc and nepali businessmen spent over half a billion dollars buying influence in the recent presidential election. It is supected that anpac influence was behind the 4 trillion dollar us invasion of sikkim. Nepal is now threatening to go to war against Ladakh claiming it is a centre of anti nepali sentiment and that if it gets nuclear weapons the world will be endangered.

  13. David Doppler
    December 9, 2012, 5:18 pm

    I don’t know. Obama has more room now to criticize the Likud-Beiteinu alliance than he’s ever had. Maybe he can make an historic speech. We have your back, but we … will … not … tolerate these E1 settlements – unless assurances provided, consequences detailed. Make them back down.

    Why would he go to Israel to brown his nose for Bibi just before Bibi’s election, after his own election? If I were Bibi, I’d be worried, he’s about to get popped in the nose, Obama style.

    If Obama just goes to kiss his ass, and be lectured once again like a school-boy, then he’s a sorry excuse for a leader.

    • Citizen
      December 9, 2012, 10:06 pm

      He already made an historic speech–In Cairo. I don’t think he will be dusting that off for his trip to Israel and another country in the region–because he still needs, e.g., the Democratically controlled US Senate to finish his legacy work.

  14. gracie fr
    December 9, 2012, 5:48 pm

    …I’d wager the “other country” is Turkey…..

    • Keith
      December 9, 2012, 6:23 pm

      GRACIE FR- “…I’d wager the “other country” is Turkey…..”

      You may be right. NATO member Turkey is pivotal in providing both legitimization and support for the US/NATO destruction of Syria, one of the seven countries on the neocon hit list which Obama is implementing as empire continues its violent efforts to remake the Middle East.

    • ToivoS
      December 10, 2012, 1:37 am

      Nope it will not be Turkey. If Obama goes to Israel and expresses more Israel love, Erdogan would have to be a fool to host Obama. He would be exposed to the whole world as an Israeli collaborator. No way that will happen.

      • Accentitude
        December 11, 2012, 1:58 am

        Erdogan would have to be a fool indeed but behind all that tough talk, he’s still a member of a “western” NATO ally and UN member state and I think that if Obama steered Airforce 1 in Turkey’s direction, Erdogan would indeed host him and make a big deal out of it.

  15. Citizen
    December 9, 2012, 10:09 pm

    Maybe he’s going there to synchronize a deadline date sometime in late 2013 for the attack on Iran?

  16. yourstruly
    December 9, 2012, 10:16 pm

    what does it mean, the fact that out of the most recent mw posts/comments, that a certain unifying theme seems to be emerging
    where one equals one
    palestine the first
    a world to follow

  17. Accentitude
    December 10, 2012, 2:18 am

    Here’s a bet that that one other country will be Egypt.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama follows up his “new beginning speech” (Cairo, June 4, ’09) by going to Egypt. What better way to fix his love/hate relationship with Netanyahu by meeting Mursi, pledging economic aid to Egypt, and securing Israeli security in the process? Especially since Sinai remains volatile, Hamas is now stronger, and the border that Gaza shares with Egypt isn’t as secure as it was under Mubarak’s regime. Meeting Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, will give Obama the opportunity to win over Arab leaders who saw him fighting a war against “islamists.”

    Expect him to make statements about Iran, Syria, and Libya….and say some crap like “America will always stand for freedom” while he pretends to show solidarity with the revolutionaries of the recent Arab spring, pointing to examples of “American support” in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia….conveniently forgetting to mention that he’s also supporting dictators in Yemen and Bahrain who are using American weapons against their citizens, and vetoing the freedom of Palestinians who are seeking to end the Israeli occupation through diplomacy rather than armed conflict.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 10, 2012, 2:36 am

      sorry, but i won’t be taking you up on that bet.


      • Accentitude
        December 11, 2012, 1:54 am

        But if Mursi and the Americans are really in cahoots as that article suggests, wouldn’t it be the obvious platform from where to make his speech? Following the Arab Spring, there aren’t many MENA countries where Obama would be welcomed (as if there were before) other than Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan…which I don’t think wants Obama there at the moment, Egypt, possibly Libya now that there’s a new NATO-backed puppet government in development….or of course, Israel with whom the U.S. has that “iron-clad” and “unshakeable special relationship.”

  18. gingershot
    December 10, 2012, 10:31 am

    Israel changing the story from it’s disaster over E1 East Jerusalem Grab to imminent Syrian chemical weapons attacks?

    I can’t help but think Israel is dialing up it’s ‘secret tracking of Syrian Chemical Weaponization’ stories and feeding this to the mainstream media/US intel just the same way they feed all their revelations over Iranian nuclear weaponization, bogus nuclear ‘blast chambers’ at Parchin, and everything else, at every opportune moment they ‘need to change the story’

  19. foodoo
    December 10, 2012, 11:48 am

    If Obama really wanted to change history AND totally
    impress me beyond my wildest dreams.
    The other country would be Iran.

    • JennieS
      December 11, 2012, 12:55 am

      That would impress all the world foodoo but sadly it won’t happen.

  20. ToivoS
    December 10, 2012, 6:59 pm

    Given that there is no more confirmation on this story, it might seem that this leak is just some kind of background chatter or testing the waters rumoring. One reason I had trouble believing it correct was that it seemed to fly in the face of what Obama’s policy has been in the past few weeks. I agree with Beinhart’s take:

    [I]nstead of confronting Netanyahu directly, Team Obama has hit upon a different strategy: stand back and let the rest of the world do the confronting. Once America stops trying to save Israel from the consequences of its actions, the logic goes, and once Israel feels the full brunt of its mounting international isolation, its leaders will be scared into changing course. “The tide of global opinion is moving [against Israel],” notes one senior administration official. And in that environment, America’s “standing back” is actually “doing something.”

    Visiting Israel would undo the positive points of this policy.

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