US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel is not contingent on the formation of a new Israeli government, the White House stated on Friday, according to AFP.
White House spokesman Joshua Earnest said "We're going," when asked if Obama would potentially delay the trip if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition by the March 16 deadline to do so.
"The formation of the Israeli government is the responsibility of Prime Minister Netanyahu and other senior officials in the Israeli government," Earnest said. "That is not something that the president would interfere with," he added.
Earnest reiterated comments Obama made when speaking to US Jewish leaders in Washington on Thursday, stating that the US president was interested in speaking to the Israeli people.
"We are also operating at a time when the region, Israel's neighborhood if you will, is undergoing a pretty severe transition," AFP quoted Earnest as saying.
Netanyahu stated in his address to AIPAC's annual policy conference last week that the main topics of discussion on the table for Obama's visit would be the Iranian nuclear threat, the deteriorating situation in Syria and the advancement of a responsible peace process with the Palestinians.
"It is important for the people of Israel to understand that the American people stand with them in that time of crisis and that we are going to be there to protect them," the White House spokesman said.
The comments from the White House come amid reports in Israel on Friday that Negotiations to form the new government coalition were expected to be completed early next week after Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid agreed to rescind his demand for the Foreign Ministry portfolio.