President Obama will visit Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan in the spring, marking his first visit since becoming president. Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the visit by phone in late January, when Obama congratulated Netanyahu on his success in Israel's election. The White House has not released the date of Obama's trip or details about Obama's itinerary, but Israel's Channel 10 reported that a visit had been scheduled for March 20.
Although Obama visited Israel and Jordan while running for president in 2008, he hasn't been back since, drawing intense criticism from some pro-Israel groups who have claimed he is insufficiently supportive of the United States' closest ally in the Middle East. Other top administration officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have visited. The trip could help repair Obama's tarnished image in Israel, where many view him as cold to the Jewish state. Israelis vividly remember Obama's decision not to visit when he stopped in neighboring Egypt early in his first term.