Israeli Prime Minister to visit Washington later this month: report

Israel Materials 6 November 2008 12:58 (UTC +04:00)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will visit Washington later this month, in an attempt to reach last minute agreements and extract a number of promises before both leaders step down, local daily Ha'aretz reported Thursday.

Olmert, who will remain in power as caretaker premier before the scheduled general elections in February, is looking for commitments from U.S. President George Bush to the peace process with the Palestinians, U.S. military aid and various arms deals, said the report, Xinhua.

Four main issues are expected on the agenda in U.S.-Israeli relations: the peace process with the Palestinians and Syria; dealing with Iran and its allies; the future of U.S. military aid and cooperation; and the cancellation of visa requirement for Israelis who want to visit the United States.

According to Ha'aretz, Olmert wants to agree with Bush on the future security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians, based upon a detailed proposal presented to the Americans a number of months ago.

Olmert also wants Bush to approve a number of important weapons deals which await administration approval, and would ask Bush for support for the existing military aid agreement.

Olmert will underline that the defense budget and Israel Defense Forces plans are based on the U.S. aid, and that it is critical not to change the terms of the agreement.

While Olmert is still looking for pledges from outgoing President Bush, the real questions being asked in Israel relate to President-elect Barack Obama, who won a landslide victory in the presidential election Tuesday.

The questions -- will the new U.S. president cut military aid to Israel or will he keep his predecessor's agreements with Israel, how will he handle Iran's nuclear ambitions, and will he support Israel's security requirement -- are keeping Israeli leadership busy, and will define Israel's relations with the U.S. in the future, said Ha'aretz.