U.S. president says it’s no accident that his first foreign visit in his second term is to the Holy Land
“But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the Holy City for 42 months.” - Revelation 11:2
JERUSALEM — Calling the U.S. Israel’s “greatest friend,” President Barack Obama assured the Middle East ally of his administration’s commitment to Israel’s security while cautioning that the region’s “winds of change bring both promise and peril.”
Obama declared common cause with Israel, noting that it was the first stop of the first trip of his second term. “As I begin my second term as President, Israel is the first stop on my first foreign trip. This is no accident. So I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors. And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever.” Obama said upon arriving in Tel Aviv.
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” - Daniel 9:27
Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed Obama, asserting that “A world without America’s leadership, without her moral voice, would be a darker world. A world without your friendship, would invite aggression against Israel.”
Obama’s trip is his first visit to the country — and only his second to the Middle East, outside of a quick jaunt to Iraq — since taking office. He will also be making his first trips as president to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan this week. But on an itinerary laden more with symbolism than substance, an Israel that is increasingly wary of developments in Syria and Iran is Obama’s main focus.
Adding yet another dimension to the trip, Obama landed amid new questions about the Syrian regime’s possible use of chemical weapons.
As he arrived, Obama joked to Netanyahu that he was “getting away from Congress.”
Barack Obama in Israel: ‘the Beast‘ 666 limo breaks down: The hulking vehicle, nicknamed “the Beast”, juddered to a halt on the motorway between Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and Jerusalem. Now a wicked sandstorm has grounded President Obama’s helicopter.
Following the arrival ceremony at the airport, Obama headed to Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli leaders.
Obama faces an Israeli leadership and public anxious to hear the president affirm America’s commitment to the security of the Jewish state while standing on their soil.
Obama sparred frequently with Netanyahu over the Palestinian peace process during his first term. And despite public assurances from both sides that relations otherwise remained solid, the president endured four years of criticism from pro-Israel advocates and conservatives in the U.S. and numerous commentators in Israel for not doing enough to back the Mideast’s only stable democracy in the face of growing threats to its existence.
So even though U.S. officials have set expectations low and previewed no significant policy announcements, there is a clear metric to measure the success of Obama’s three-day stay in Israel and the West Bank: how much he is able to reverse the perception that his administration is not fully committed to Israel’s security.
The centerpiece of the first leg of the trip will be a speech to Israeli university students on Thursday, during which Obama is expected to renew U.S. assurances to stand by Israel as it seeks to counter threats from Iran and protect its people in the midst of civil war in neighboring Syria, where new questions were raised Tuesday about the Assad regime’s possible use of chemical weapons.
Ahead of Obama’s visit, an Israeli Cabinet minister, Yuval Steinitz, said it is “apparently clear” that chemical weapons were recently used in Syria, and that the alleged attack will be a main topic of conversation with the president. The Obama administration said Tuesday it had no evidence to support the regime’s claims that rebels were responsible for a chemical attack.
Obama has declared the use, deployment or transfer of the weapons would be a “red line” for possible military intervention by the U.S. in the Syrian conflict.
Once in Jerusalem, a potent religious symbol as well as one of the main obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. When Obama got to Bethlehem, security had cleared visitors after Manger Square. Obama then toured the Church of the Nativity, built atop the cave where Jesus is believed to have been born. Onlookers watched in silence, with no sign of the enthusiasm which usually greets the convoy. Some held up signs of protest.
“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be, let the reader understand, then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” - Mark 13:14
”So when you see standing in the holy place, ’the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel, let the reader understand.” - Matthew 24:15
“Is someone in this building already drawing construction plans for the Third Temple?” The response was a round of applause, and a quip from Attias. “I think Obama would have to authorize that.” Ariel responded, “I think it’s a higher power who is in charge.”
Obama will make an almost perfunctory visit to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in the West Bank, where he will meet embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to assure him that an independent Palestinian state remains a U.S. foreign policy and national security priority. Despite not coming with any new plan to get the stalled peace process back on track, Obama plans to make clear that his administration intends to keep trying to get talks relaunched.
Israel repeatedly has threatened to take military action should Iran appear to be on the verge of obtaining a bomb. The U.S. has pushed for more time to allow diplomacy and economic penalties to run their course, though Obama insists military action is an option.
Obama will close out his Mideast trip with a 24-hour stop in Jordan, an important U.S. ally, where his focus will be on the violence in Syria. More than 450,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan, crowding refugee camps and overwhelming aid organizations.
In his talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Obama also will try to shore up the country’s fledgling attempts to liberalize its government and stave off an Arab Spring-style movement similar to the ones that have taken down leaders elsewhere in the region.