US President Barack Obama wrapped up his four-day Middle East tour with visit of Jordan’s amazing ancient city of Petra Saturday, news agencies reported.
One of the major achievements of Obama’s trip was persuading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to apologize on behalf of Israel for the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, a commando raid on an aid flotilla that left nine Turkish activists dead. That was an important step toward reconciling two friends of the US – Israel and Turkey, considering that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accepted the apology.
Most of Obama’s Middle East tour was spent in Israel. During the tour, he met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, one of the key players in efforts to solve Middle-East crisis. Obama called on both sides in conflict to resume peace talks, frozen since 2010.
As he visited the West Bank, a landlocked territory, Thursday, he told PalestinianPresident Mahmoud Abbas he was deeply committed to the creation of Palestinian state. When he stopped to West Bank city of Ramallah, Obama urged Palestinian leaders to drop demands for a freeze in settlement building and start talks with Israeli as soon as possible, BBC reports.
Obama emphasized Israeli regime’s occupation of the West Bank must end.
However, little progress has been made as, according to Abbas’ spokesman, thePalestinian leader told Obama the precondition remained in place.
The highlight of Obama’s three-day visit to Israel was his speech at the Convention Center in Jerusalem before Israeli students, where he said a sovereign Palestinian state was the only path for true security in Israel.
“You can be the generation that permanently secures the Zionist dream, or you can face a growing challenge to its future,” Obama said. “Given the demographics west of the Jordan River, the only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine.”
He further said just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.
Obama met several times with Netanyahu, who has been calling Abbas for quite a while to resume negotiations. Besides talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they also discussed the Iran’s nuclear program. In that regard, Obama assured Netanyahu the US will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
On Friday, Obama arrived in Amman and had a meeting with king Abdullah II on the matter of Syrian refugees who come to Jordan and other regional issues. Although Obama expressed confidence that Bashar al-Assad’s regime would eventually collapse, he said he was very concerned about the future of Syria afterward.
“I am very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism, because extremists thrive in chaos,” Obama said during a joint news conference with King Abdullah II. “They thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums.”
Obama promised $200 million to Jordan in order to help them take care of Syrian refugees.
According to Huffington Post, meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II was very important since he is perhaps “Obama’s strongest Arab ally and a key player in efforts to jumpstart peace talks between Palestinians and Israel.”