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News Analysis: Stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to dominate Obama's visit


08:22, February 07, 2013

Key Words: Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; Obama's visit

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JERUSALEM, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Israel in March or April as part of a wider tour of the Middle East, with the stalled peace talks between Israelis and the Palestinians possibly be the main agenda.

He did come to Israel in July 2008 before being elected president later the same year, but he has not visited since, stating that he will only do when there is an opportunity to make real progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

According to Israeli TV Channel 10, Obama has been assured that he could be able "to accomplish great things" and to move the negotiations forward.

There have not been any negotiations for over two years, and there are issues which Obama needs to find a way to resolve before talks are resumed. Some analysts said that even if the talks are to restart, there is still an adamant risk that they will break down again.

"The assumption is that the president would not come to Israel unless he got some commitment from the parties, namely from Mr. ( Benjamin) Netanyahu and Mr. (Mahmoud) Abbas, that there is a willingness to resume the negotiation process. I would assume that this will bring about a restart of the political process," Shlomo Brom, of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, told Xinhua on Wednesday.

Prof. Eli Podeh, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that he was a bit surprised by Obama's decision to come but the fact that he is coming means that at least he is making attempts to promote the process.

"To what extent he will succeed is an open question because Israel still doesn't have any government and we don't know what its composition is, if is it more moderate than before," Podeh said, referring to the fact that Netanyahu is in the middle of trying to build a new coalition government after parliamentary elections were held on Jan. 22.

He added that "it might be that we will have a more moderate Israeli government that is more willing to discuss the peace process."

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