Two senior U.S. officials, Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, are visiting Israel this week, where they are expected to meet with a host of top Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The political echelon in Jerusalem has refused to disclose the issues Kerry and Lieberman are expected to discuss with the Israeli officials during their visit.
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Kerry's visit comes just a few weeks after he met in Cairo with members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that is set to dominate the new parliament. During the meeting, brotherhood officials told Kerry that they respect civil rights and international treaties that have been signed in the past. The group said Kerry told the Brotherhood's members that he was not surprised by their success in parliamentary elections. Several media reports on the meeting also said Kerry called for an infusion of funds from the International Monetary Fund to support Egypt’s new Islamist government.
Officials in Jerusalem consider Kerry's visit to Israel important, given his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is responsible for overseeing and funding foreign aid programs. Israel and Egypt are the two largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid.The U.S. has also, in recent weeks, signed significant arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, including advanced military platforms.
Lieberman is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
Furthermore, there is an assessment within the foreign ministry that Kerry may be in the running to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State should President Barack Obama win a second term. Kerry may then go up against current US Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice for the coveted posting.
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