After putting himself in the middle of the historic tensions between Israelis and Palestinians this week, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday wraps up his first trip to Israel since becoming president. He then moves on to another of America's closest allies in the region - Jordan, a military and intelligence partner, which has been facing trying times.
Obama is devoting his last hours in Israel and the Palestinian territories to cultural endeavors.
With Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the president and Secretary of State John Kerry visited the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, where Obama placed a stone on top of the tomb.
From there, the delegation went to the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli Prime Minister who was assassinated in 1995. Obama also laid a wreath and a stone there. The stone for Rabin's grave came from the grounds of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington.
Obama and the Israeli leaders also visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, where the president turned up the "eternal flame" of remembrance of the 6,000,000 Jewish victims of Nazi death camps in World War II.
Before continuing on to the last stop of his trip, Obama with visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, which is on the West Bank, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Obama then travels to Jordan, where he will meet with King Abdullah II, who has faced harsh criticism lately from his country's people.
This morning Speaker Boehner is pledging to make a Sandy relief bill a priority in the new Congress after abruptly pulling a similar bill late Tuesday night, right after the House passed the fiscal cliff deal. That move had lawmakers on both sides of the aisle enraged and politicians in the Northeast venting their anger.
New Jersey's outspoken governor, Republican Chris Christie, said yesterday: “National disasters happen in red states and blue states and states with Democratic governors and Republican governors. We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night. Last night politics was placed before hosts to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”
Boehner says lawmakers will vote tomorrow for a $9 billion measure, with more money later. Congressman Frank Pallone is a Democrat from New Jersey. His district includes Union Beach and Belmar, both towns hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Outraged this morning over Congress’ handling of the Sandy aid vote, he joins us live from Washington.
Rep. Pallone agrees with Governor Christie’s assessment that politics came into play here. He even concludes that the Tea Party doesn’t consider a natural disaster in a blue state as important as a natural disaster in a red state, and that is the reason why Speaker Boehner neglected the Sandy relief bill. “I really think that the speaker doesn't care about New York and New Jersey,” he says. “The fact of the matter is that he was afraid to bring this up yesterday, in my opinion, because the Tea Party and the right wing did not want to vote for the spending bill for…New York and New Jersey.”