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Obama Visit

Applying pressure. Obama Photo: AFP
Applying pressure. Obama Photo: AFP

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Op-ed: It is no coincidence that White House announced Obama visit as Netanyahu tries to form new coalition

Orly Azoulay
Published: 02.06.13, 11:40 / Israel Opinion

People who are familiar with the codes in Washington know that in this town there are no free lunches. The president of a superpower does not visit a country overseas without knowing that the results of the trip have been assured ahead of time to his satisfaction and in accordance with his interests. Obama has decided to visit Israel because he understood from Netanyahu last week that a two-state solution is possible.


The president and his advisors do not really believe Netanyahu and are not concealing their suspicion towards him. But as far as they are concerned, Netanyahu actually lost the recent elections and will therefore do whatever is asked of him. He has no choice.

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Obama is coming in order to apply pressure on Netanyahu's weak point after the people of Israel have spoken and after America's fear that Israel was shifting to the right proved to be, for the most part, unfounded.


The fact that the White House announced the visit at a time when coalition negotiations in Israel are ongoing is not coincidental. The US is signaling to Lapid and Livni that this is the time to jump on the bandwagon and be a part of the next government, because the president is serious: He is not seeking revenge; nor is he indifferent; Obama is coming to Israel to complete the mission, and he needs them in the coalition.


Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be touring the region before Obama, is showing extraordinary enthusiasm about the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Obama had his doubts, but they have diminished somewhat. As far as Obama is concerned, Netanyahu is the prime minister, but he is no longer king.


Obama will come to Jerusalem to speak to the Israeli public above Netanyahu's head. He will try to charm the Israeli public and allay its security-related concerns. He will give the Israelis what they crave for: A big hug from a foreign leader and an almost limitless line of credit.


After winning the hearts of the people, Obama will get down to business. His mission: Renew the alliance with the Israeli public and clarify to Netanyahu that playtime is over. He does not intend to let up until white smoke appears.



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