Elliott Abrams, National Security Advisor under President George W. Bush, writes that President Obama’s upcoming visit to the Middle East – including his first trip to Israel as President – has little that it can accomplish. Abrams sees a number of issues which may actually worsen due to the President’s trip, but hopes for a symbolic show of support for the Jewish state.
The trip itself is a good thing: Israel is a close ally, and American presidents should visit there. The visit would have had more impact in Obama’s first term, before opinions about him began to harden in Israel (and for that matter in Ramallah), but the formation of a new government in Jerusalem provides a good moment for this visit. The question is what Obama will say—about Iran, the violence in Syria, the instability visible after the Arab Spring in several countries—and of course about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.