President Obama supports Israel; take it to the bank.
That said, this administration made mistakes in its first term in its treatment of Israel, which led to a deficit of trust between the two countries.
Make no mistake, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made mistakes, too, which he must answer for, but the president can only control his own actions, not those of his allies.
That is why we believe a state visit to Israel should be a very high priority in the second term of the Obama administration.
We don’t say this for political purposes; there are concrete reasons to make this trip:
• It will demonstrate to Iran that the United States has Israel’s back.
• It will give the president the chance to see changing conditions on the ground, such as Israel’s borders with Egypt and Syria, which have been heating up in recent months.
• Finally, it will afford the president and Netanyahu a private opportunity to mend fences. Both men share responsibility for their tense relationship; both must take steps to repair it.
To be sure, a state visit to Israel won’t happen immediately. The president must address a few pressing matters first, such as the fiscal, cliff, a grand compromise on deficit reduction and some key Cabinet appointments.
But the visit should happen sooner than later. The president’s physical presence in the Jewish state would serve notice to all destabilizing forces in the region that the United States remains firmly engaged in Middle Eastern affairs, which could have a calming effect in that part of the world.
A new term, a new trip — it makes sense.
(Editor’s note: We’re interested in your thoughts on priorities for the president’s second term. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)