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The Israel Factor: What’s the Number One Objective of Obama’s Visit?

by Shmuel Rosner

March 19, 2013 | 6:44 am

Obama and Netanyahu, photo by Reuters

With Obama’s visit to Israel right around the corner, we challenged our Israel Factor experts with a complicated question (not one which they can't handle though). Our goal was to see what they think Obama’s presidential visit should focus on, and what they think it actually will focus on. Interestingly, on most of the issues the panel believes that there’s no real discrepancy between the two: the President and his host, Prime Minister Netanyahu, are probably going to discuss what they should discuss.

The question was: “Please look at each one of the following objectives and tell us how much you think it should be focused on in the upcoming visit (1- should not be focused on; 10- should take center stage). Then tell us how much you think the subject will indeed be focused on (1- will not be focused on at all; 10- will take center stage)”. Take a look at the answers given by the panel:

 

Objective

Should

Will

Reigniting peace talks with the Palestinians

7

4.67

Improving the personal relations between Netanyahu and Obama

5.78

5.56

Coordinating efforts concerning the Iranian nuclear threat

8.89

7.67

Coordinating strategy regarding Syria

8.11

8.44

Working on matters of US-Israeli military cooperation

6.67

6.78

Discussing Egypt policy

6.56

6.44

 

As you can see, the Syrian issue is especially pressing and the panel believes that it will be the top item on the agenda (it should be the second major issue though, following the even graver matter of Iran). On almost every subject there's a similar picture: what matters will be focused on.

In fact, the only issue on which there’s a gap worthy of discussion between the what-we-want and the what-we-will-get columns is “reigniting peace talks with the Palestinians”. Clearly, the panel got the message from all sides and has lowered its expectations on the Palestinian front. That being said, the fact that Obama and Netanyahu aren’t going to spend a lot of time and energy on the Israel-Palestine conflict doesn’t mean that the panelists have ceased to see this issue as a priority.

There are some panelists though- not the whole panel- who seem to be the main reason for the gap between the “should” and the “will” on this subject. Notably, there are four panelists according to whom the gap is especially high on this issue, as high as 4-7 points out of 10. Take a look what would have happened had we included only these four panelists in our survey:

 

 

Panelist 1

Panelist 2

Panelist 3

Panelist 4

Average

Reigniting peace talks with the Palestinians

10

8

7

10

8.75

Reigniting peace talks with the Palestinians

6

2

2

3

3.25

 

The March 2013 Israel Factor survey is here. I will write some more about it in the coming days.

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