President Barack Obama will visit Israel later this month, the 20th, even if Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu fails to put together a governing coalition beforehand. “We’re going,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a briefing for reporters Friday, March 9. In answer to a question, he said, “The formation of the Israeli government is the responsibility of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior officials of the Israeli government…”
Secretary of state John Kerry thought otherwise when he skipped a visit to Israel as not worthwhile until a government is in place. (Netanyahu’s deadline for forming a government has been extended to March16.)
DEBKAfile reports from its Washington sources that President Obama’s calculations for making the trip are a lot more complicated than Kerry’s. According to some Israeli circles, none of them are good news for their country.
He arrives less than a month after the last Six-Power (US, Russia, UK, France, China and Germany) nuclear discussions with Iran ended in Kazakhstan. After those talks, US and Western media trumpeted “an unusual sense of optimism” or more cautiously allowed “a faint and perhaps fleeting light at the end of one of the world’s most durable tunnels.”
So when Air Force One lands in Israel March 20 and Israeli dignitaries push forward to greet the US president, a small group of anonymous Air Force pilots will be watching from a distance, waiting for the order to fly out and carry out their mission in a single night.