President Obama is getting reviewed by the right and the left after his first presidential visit to Israel. “It was a great success,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, (D-N.Y.) who traveled with the president and spoke about the trip on Jansing & Co.
“He was treated like a rock star in Israel,” Engel said.
Engel believes the president’s approval rating will go up in Israel after his speech to students was well received. “He talked about a two-state solution… I think everyone wants peace, so I think this was a very, very good trip for him, a very positive trip,” Engel said.
But, at least one Republican does not agree.
“Candidly, I thought the trip was a disappointment for us,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday. ”I thought the president squandered great opportunity to show leadership and push them to a place where they could get an agreement on a meeting, they didn’t get it, just got a speech. We could get to some agreement on the path forward on Syria - didn’t get that.”
But, Engel, and others, point to a warming of relations between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I think that whatever negativity there was, I think the vast majority of it is gone and we have to move on from here,” Engel said.
In one surprise during the trip, the president persuaded Netanyahu to apologize to Turkey on a deadly raid on a flotilla bound for Gaza in 2010. A spokesman for Netanyahu said he told the Turkish Prime Minister that tragic results regarding the Mavi Marmara were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life.
Engel said the trip could open the door to peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians in the future.
“Let’s put things in perspective…the Israelis have said that they will sit down in face-to-face negotiations with no preconditions and the Palestinians have refused,” Engel said. “President Obama, many times on this trip said the only way that you can have a peace agreement is face-to-face negotiations, with no preconditions… The two parties should just sit down and hash it out, and not leave the room until there’s a resolution.”