The Daily Rundown | February 05, 2013
>>> next month. it's his first trip to the country since becoming president. he will be the fifth sitting u.s. president to visit israel and the first to make it the first foreign trip of a second term. giving president obama a chance to mend what is a sometimes tense relationship with prime minister benjamin netanyahu . joining me now is the israeli ambassador to the united states , michael or in. ambassador, good morning, thanks for coming in.
>> good morning, chuck. impressed with all the statistics. very good.
>> let me start with this, and we know the way that both press corps can be when it comes to u.s.-israeli relations, but there's an expectation that the president wouldn't have accepted the invitation if prime minister netanyahu wasn't ready to make a gesture on the peace process when the president visited. is that something we should be looking for?
>> listen, we're delighted that he's coming. president obama was always welcomed in israel . he'll be received enthusiastically by the government of israel , by the prime minister of israel , by the people of israel . the white house has made very clear that the purpose of the trip is to strengthen an already historic bond between israel and the united states . i think it will send a powerful message to the middle east at a time great uncertainty and upheaval throughout the region, and i think that is the purpose of the trip.
>> but what about on the peace process ? when you want to read between the lines here and you've got to be careful with what you want to say, you've got the president that's going to be visiting the west bank and visiting israel and then going to jordan . let me ask you this. is juror down's king hussein the new mubarak here when it comes to the peace process , that he might be the -- the sort of mediator in the region?
>> king abdullah .
>> king abdullah .
>> his dad was king hussein . jordan has played a crucial role in the peace process and we welcome that role. historic relations between jordan , historic peace treaty between israel and jordan . we look forward to working with the king in the future as an important partner in the peace process . at the end of the day though it -- the peace has to be made between israelis and palestinians . that's the way we made peace with egypt back in the '70s, the way we made peace with jordan in the '90s, the way the oslo peace process with the palestinians began in 1939 by israelis sitting down with arab leaders. we've been waiting for the palestinians to sit with us for the last four years. they haven't done so. we're willing to meet with them today in jerusalem and ramallah here in washington, d.c., we don't care, to discuss all the outstanding issues between us , whether it's border securities, jerusalem, to reach a peace based on two states, a jewish state of israel leaving side by side in peace and security with the palestinian state .
>> what message did you believe the israeli folks were sending to your government, the netanyahu government, with the surprising rise of a new party, lapin's party?
>> i think it's reflecting changes in israel . israelis -- israel is a very young country. we have the fastest growing country in the industrialized modernized world. many israelis under the age of 30, that generation has experienced two transformtive events. there's been terror, suicide bombers, peace plans that have been rejected by the palestinians on one side and then israel 's emergence as a high-tech powerhouse which has caused income gaps and questions of whether the middle class can make it. i mean, these are issues that americans face as well, and so that -- that centrist party is reflecting some of these changes that have occurred in israel , these transformative events over the last ten years for people who are under 30, who are on one hand struggling with security questions but also struggling with the questions of whether they can afford housing.
>> when -- when syria falls, the assumption is when assad falls at some point if this is unsustainable, and the assumption i know by a lot of experts in that region, that it's unsustainable there in syria , what role does the -- do you want to see the united states play in a post-assad syria ? what is the role that israel believes the united states needs to play?
>> well, keep in mind that nobody knows what's going to happen.
>> we don't know that syria is going to break apart. what we do know is that syria has an immense amount of weaponry, including the largest chemical weaponry arsenal in the world and we're communicating with the united states very closely about the control of that chemical weapons arsenal or the lack of control over that arsenal, and i think it's really very important for the future for the united states to cooperate closely with the allies in the region, israel one certainly, jordan , to meet any possible threat from syria . having all said that, our hope remains that a peaceful and democratic syria will emerge from this crisis.
>> ambassador michael oren , israeli ambassador to the united states . thanks for coming in this morning. a bunch of us are looking forward to the trip to israel in late march.