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What Obama should do in Israel

As President Obama begins his Middle East trip today, there’s no shortage of advice for what the president should do while he’s in town.

From Washington, 77 U.S. senators signed onto a letter urging Obama to use the trip as an opportunity to show he stands by Israel.

Some Israelis already are unhappy about Obama’s planned itinerary. Reuven Rivlin, a Knesset member from the Likud-Beiteinu faction, said Obama should have directly addressed the Knesset.

Peter Beinart says that while Obama should use the visit to reach out to Israelis who feel misunderstood, he also needs to "scare them" with the truth that Jewish settlements in the West Bank undermine Israeli democracy. The editors of Haaretz call on Obama to apply pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu to commit to the peace process.

In Foreign Policy, Amos Yadlin and Gilad Sher say Obama should use the trip to lay out a new peace initiative. If he doesn’t, the visit is little more than a distraction from the ultimate goal of restarting the peace process. 

Palestinians, too, are skeptical that this trip will do much for them, as Jodi Rudoren reports in Wednesday’s New York Times, particularly given the lopsided schedule that has Obama spending far more time in Israel than in the West Bank.

Yossi Klein Halevi, writing for The New Republic, says that although Obama plans on speaking directly to the Israeli public, what Israelis will be watching will be how Obama deals with Netanyahu.

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