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Mar-19-2013 19:17printcomments

Obama's First Trip to Israel as President: Preventing War With Iran

Obama will address the Israeli people on Thursday (Mar. 21)

Barack Obama

(TEL AVIV) - Barack Obama's first trip to Israel as president, this coming Wednesday and Thursday, is far more than an exercise in "optics." Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, co-authors of the IsraelSpy blog and 5 books about the Middle East -- including Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars, a new history of Israel's intelligence agencies -- say that there is a large public relations aspect, to be sure; as Obama tries to erase the impression that he does not really like the Jewish State.

He will address the Israeli people on Thursday (Mar. 21), seeking to go over the heads of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his newly installed coalition.  Obama will likely call on Israelis to make peace with the Palestinians a much higher priority.

Yet -- according to Raviv and Melman -- Obama's most urgent goal is to persuade Israel that there is no need for a military strike against Iran: not now, and almost surely not this year.  90 percent of the real business of President Obama's visit may be beneath the surface. Raviv and Melman explain that the best way to ensure that Israel does not act on its own, which could draw the United States into yet another Middle East war, is for Obama to offer Israel secret aid, shared technologies, and increased covert cooperation. The good news for Obama is that the new cabinet line-up is not likely to order an attack on Iran -- mainly because Ehud Barak, who had been saber-rattling with Netanyahu, is no longer the minister of defense.

Yossi Melman, who has broken stories on Israeli intelligence and defense for decades, is available to analyze Obama's trip -- and what's really being discussed. Melman, former Haaretz writer, who now writes for Walla and The Jerusalem Report, is based in Tel Aviv. Dan Raviv, a CBS News correspondent for over three decades, is available in Washington to analyze Obama's goals and the joint covert work which the CIA and the Mossad have already done.



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