In both countries, officials hope that an American president on Israeli soil, affirming America's unwavering support for Israel, will quell the concerns from the Israeli perspective. Equally, if not more important, is channeling that message to anti-Israel actors, including Iran, Lebanon's militant Hezbollah, and the Hamas faction of the Palestinians that controls the Gaza Strip.
The goodwill Obama hopes to inspire is expected to be accompanied by gentle encouragement of Israelis and their leaders to be more sensitive the new realities of the region and not take actions that provoke or irritate the very people with whom they desire better ties.
In many ways, Obama faces a similar perception problem among Palestinians who were buoyed by his early support for their longstanding position on settlements, but have been bitterly disappointed by the lack of any progress on achieving statehood.
So, with prospects dim for new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks any time soon, in part because Netanyahu has just formed a new government, Obama will bring a similar message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas' administration has infuriated Israel and annoyed the United States by seeking recognition as a state from the United Nations in the absence of a peace agreement.
Obama is expected to warn anew that such acts only hurt chances for getting back to negotiations, but stress that the United States is firmly committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will continue to be an honest broker on the path to get there.
U.S. officials hope Obama's visit to Jordan will boost King Abdullah II's standing both at home among a restive population and in the region where, since the Muslim Brotherhood won elections in Egypt, his nation is the more solid of Israel's two Arab friends.
Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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