|John Kerry 370.(Photo by: REUTERS/Jason Reed)|
Kerry postpones Israel visit in 1st Middle East trip
By TOVAH LAZAROFF, HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
US Secretary of State to make first Israel visit with Obama; settler leaders urge American president to visit West Bank.
Israel will not be a stop on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s first
international trip, in which he will travel to Europe and the Middle East from
February 24 to March 6.
Kerry had been expected to arrive in Israel at
the end of this month, as part of that trip, but will instead arrive with US
President Barack Obama during his visit in March.
It is assumed that the
absence of a new Israeli government caused Kerry to postpone the trip.
exact date has been set for the US president’s visit. But with each
passing day Obama fever in Israel is rising.
On Tuesday, the Prime
Minister’s Office released an official logo that will be on all documents and
signs relating to the trip.
The blue, red and white logo looks like a
flag that is half American and half Israeli, with red strips on one side and
blue strips and a Jewish star on the other. Underneath it are the words
It was among three logos designed by graphic
artists chosen by the Government Advertising Agency.
The public was asked
to pick from among the three, which were placed on the prime minister’s Facebook
page. The winning logo received 66.8 percent of the votes.
letters to Facebook, settlers have reached out to Obama in an effort to sway him
to visit Jewish communities in the West Bank during his visit to
Both Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel and Efrat Council head
Oded Revivi wrote letters to Obama, urging him to see for himself what life is
like in their communities, both of which are located near Jerusalem.
would like to invite you to visit the city of Ma’aleh Adumim, and to get a
first-hand expression of the issue of the neighborhood in area E1,” Kashriel
wrote to Obama earlier this month.
In his letter, which was released to
the media on Tuesday, he explained that he understood that the issue of
construction in the un-built area of his settlement, known as E1 to the
international community and the Mevaseret Adumim neighborhood in Hebrew, had
made it all the way to Obama’s desk.
He told Obama he was concerned that
Palestinians had provided him with inaccurate information about the proposed
construction’s impact, which had led to his decision to call for the project to
A visit to Ma’aleh Adumim, Kashriel wrote, would “offer the
opportunity to experience the nature of our city’s people, and our city’s great
contribution to regional prosperity, as well as to the livelihood and success of
both Palestinian and Israeli families.”
On Monday, Revivi released a
letter that he, too, had sent to Obama, in which he urged him to visit his West
In his letter he noted that 30 percent of Efrat
residents were American born, including the community’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo
Efrat had good relations with the neighboring Palestinian
villages and served as a model for cooperation between Jews and Arabs, he
“A visit to our town would sharpen one’s understanding of the
reality in which we live,” Revivi wrote.
“You would be able to see from
an observation point the close proximity of our neighboring Arab villages to
Jerusalem, and realize that the declaration of two states for two nations is not
realistic and would only worsen and deteriorate the delicate situation that now
exits but for which a workable solution must be found,” Revivi
Separately, the Samaria Citizens Committee has created a Facebook
page urging Obama to visit its region of the West Bank. To date it has received
The most popular page on the issue, however, has been the
Peace Now page, with 17,795 “likes” with a request that Obama give a speech for
peace in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, Kerry’s 11 days of travel
will take him to Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates
as well as a handful of European destinations.
His stop in Egypt will
seek to “encourage greater political consensus and move forward on economic
reforms,” according to a statement put out by the State Department. While in the
Gulf, Kerry will participate in a ministerial meeting of the Gulf Cooperation
Council, and in Qatar he will discuss regional concerns including Syria and the