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March 14, 2013

Obama on his trip to Israel: A chance to connect

President Obama told an Israeli television station his visit to Israel next week gives him a chance to "connect with the Israeli people."

Obama has come under some criticism in Israel for an icy relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for his decision to deliver a speech at a convention center in Jerusalem, rather than to Israel's Knesset. But White House officials said the venue would allow Obama to be "in the room with the Israeli public."

Obama said he'd "directly speak to the Israeli people and talk about our unshakeable commitment to Israel, but also to talk about a shared vision for a more prosperous and peaceful future."

Asked about the wariness with which some Israelis view him, Obama called some of it "politics. I think there are conservative views both here and in the United States and in Israel that may not jive with mine. Particularly when there's election season coming up as there was last year, I think the attempt to try to paint me as somehow not fully there and commited to Israeli security, despite actions and words to the contrary, might have served some political purpose."

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