Clinton Visits Israel ahead of Romney's Trip

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Following a meeting-packed weekend in Egypt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel for a 24-hour visit, the first since September 2010.

In Cairo, Clinton met with newly elected President Mohammed Morsi on Saturday and Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, who took the reins following Mubarak's ouster, among other senior officials.

Some observers say her two-day visit was not as successful as she may have hoped.

Besides the tension between the Islamist president and the secular leader of Egypt's military, protesters followed her, demonstrating in front of the American Embassy, at her hotel, and other places she visited.

Following a dedication ceremony for a new U.S. consulate in Alexandria Sunday, where Clinton spoke of democracy "protecting the rights of the minority," demonstrators pelted her motorcade with tomatoes, water bottles, and shoes -- the ultimate insult in the Arab and Muslim world.

Coptic leaders also refused to meet with her Sunday, saying the U.S. administration has demonstrated a preference for Islamic groups over other political and civil groups, the Egypt Independent Sun reported.

In Israel, Clinton received a warm welcome from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman early Monday, followed by a friendly exchange with President Shimon Peres, who thanked her for "taking such a personal interest in this difficult region and for never losing hope or patience."

Later Clinton will meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, followed by a dinner meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Clinton will also hold a press conference at her hotel Monday evening.

The secretary of state's visit comes just two weeks before GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to visit Israel.

Romney has questioned President Obama's claim of an "ironclad commitment to Israel's security."

At one campaign stop last winter, Romney said the president "threw Israel under the bus" by calling the pre-1967 borders a basis for restarting direct talks with the Palestinian Authority. 

In a Jerusalem Post column Monday, political analyst Herb Keinon questioned what motivated Clinton's visit.

"After such a prolonged absence, it is difficult to believe that it is a mere coincidence that she is visiting precisely now, just two weeks before Republican presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to arrive," Keinon writes.

"Clinton will undoubtedly repeat well-worn platitudes about the need to restart the diplomatic process with the Palestinians and the importance of negotiations," he continued. "But less than four months before the U.S. presidential elections, the secretary of state will obviously refrain from anything that could be interpreted by pro-Israel supporters in the U.S. as undue pressure on Israel."

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From her perch high atop the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, Tzippe Barrow helps provide a bird’s eye view of events unfolding in her country.

She and her husband made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) several years ago. Barrow hopes that providing a biblical perspective of today’s events in Israel will help people in the nations to better understand the centrality of this state and the Jewish people to God’s unfolding plan of redemption for all mankind.