JERUSALEM, March 18 (Xinhua) -- As U.S. President Barack Obama' s visit to Israel and the West Bank draws near, political instability in the region is believed to be a major talk during his three-day stay, besides his wish to introduce his new team and to garner more popularity among the Israelis after re-election.
Obama's trip is "a combination of diplomacy and public diplomacy," Prof. Eytan Gilboa of the Bar-Ilan University said of the landmark visit, Obama's first to Israel as president.
Gilboa said the Israeli public likes Obama as a person but disapproves his relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his policies toward Israel and the Mideast. Obama knows this and he needs the Israelis to support his policies on the region.
Yet, the U.S. president knows his trip cannot only be a friend- making tour. He has tasks.
He has to talk with Israeli leaders over such regional issues as Iran's nuclear aspiration, the Syrian unrest, and the Israeli- Palestinian peace deadlock.
Zalman Shoval, who served twice as Israeli ambassador to the United States in the 1990s, said the No.1 issue will go to Iran's nuclear activities, "on which Israeli and the U.S. stances have come closer in the last few months."
Both Obama and Netanyahu have almost completely replaced their teams of national security and foreign policy after securing another term in office.
On the U.S. side, Chuck Hagel was appointed the new secretary of defense, and John Kerry the new secretary of state. Both men are said to favor a less confrontational approach toward Iran's nuclear program.
In Israel, 62-year-old Moshe Ya'alon will replace Ehud Barak as the defense minister. Though stressing the necessity of protecting Israel from a nuclear Iran, he does refer to an armed attack against Tehran as the last option available.
Prof. Eytan Gilboa of the Bar-Ilan University argued that Netanyahu's stance has come closer to the American one which favors giving more time to economic sanction before military action to stop the alleged Iranian nuclear weapon programs.
Netanyahu will also talk about the situation in Syria with Obama since Israel shares border with Syria and is worried about Syria's potential use of chemical weapons.
"The Palestinian issue won't be the No.1 issue but it won't be at the very tail-end either," Shoval said, referring to the negotiations between Palestinian and Israel which broke down in 2010 over a dispute on settlements expansion.