One of President Obama’s earliest supporters in the Jewish community, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), is upbeat about next week’s meeting between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After Wexler met this week with Netanyahu in Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama are not headed for a "train wreck," but rather will "figure out how to work collaboratively" during their meeting next week, US Congressman Robert Wexler, a close political ally of Obama and a stalwart Israel supporter, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Wexler, who in March 2007 was the first Jewish politician outside of Obama’s home state of Illinois to endorse his presidential campaign, said after emerging from a meeting with Netanyahu that both the prime minister and Obama understand that "cooperatively we can enhance each other’s strategic interest, better than we can separately."
Wexler, a liberal Democrat from South Florida, dismissed concern that has been reflected in the media in recent weeks that Israeli-US ties are headed for a crisis.
"I can say unequivocally that the anxiety is not warranted," said Wexler, who has spoken to the US president about Middle East issues, and speaks regularly with top White House staffers dealing with the matter, including National Security Adviser Gen. (ret.) James Jones.
He arrived in Israel on Friday for a series of meetings in Jerusalem and in the Palestinian Authority, and will return to Washington on Monday.
"I am in constant contact with those in the administration responsible for policy in this region, and nothing could be further from the truth," he said, regarding reports that the US and Israel are on a collision course.
"As someone who was with Barack Obama from the very beginning of his campaign, I am not going to be surprised or fall prey to the too often false representation of now President Obama; and likewise I think the degree of angst also misrepresents Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies as well," said Wexler, who spoke of Obama’s pro-Israeli credentials as one of the featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention in Denver last summer.
"These two men are not headed for a train wreck," he said. "They are not. Both men want the relationship to be as strong, if not stronger – if that is possible – than it has been in the past."
Wexler also said he didn’t think the U.S. would "pressure" Israel:
Despite linkage some key Obama administration figures have made in recent weeks between progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track and stopping Iran’s nuclear march, Wexler said there was no "package."
"There is no quid pro quo, there is no package," he said. "However, it would be absurd to conclude that progress or lack of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track does not have ramifications or impact upon the ability to be successful in thwarting Iran’s nuclear program."
It would be naïve, he said, "to think that issues that are happening at the same time do not impact on one another." But he did not think Obama would "pressure" Netanyahu.
"I think President Obama will present a compelling case as to the direction the US will take with regard to Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian track, and will listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu make his case, and the two leaders will figure out how we will work collaboratively. I don’t think it is a question of pressure," Wexler said.