Now we know the US is getting serious about the peace process. The lack of US presidential visits has been in marked contrast to the Clinton administration.
Last update - 22:07 04/12/2007
Bush to make 1st official visit to Israel in January
By Barak Ravid,
Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
United States President George W. Bush will make an official visit to Israel in January, Haaretz learned on Tuesday.
During his visit, Bush is expected to focus on promoting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the framework of agreements reached at last week's Mideast peace conference, held in Annapolis, Maryland,
This visit will be Bush's first visit to Israel since he took office seven years ago. Bush visited Israel in 1998 when he was governor of Texas. In contrast, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Israel three times in the six week period leading up to the Annapolis peace summit.
It is still unclear whether Bush will be visiting neighboring countries while in the region.
Bush's visit will come approximately one month after the Annapolis conference. Last week, Bush was criticized by American columnists for not having visited Israel. With this visit, Bush hopes to demonstrate his commitment to the peace process relaunched in Annapolis.
Bush is also expected to discuss with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the issue of Iran's nuclear program, and steps to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
Last week, Haaretz reported that Bush had been invited to take part in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations in 2008.
Officials at the Prime Minister's Office reported that Bush's visit has not yet been confirmed, but it will likely take place in January, and will likely include a tour of Gulf States as well.