A defiant President Barack Obama pushed back against Republican criticisms of his foreign policy during a network television interview that aired on Thursday night.
During an exclusive interview on NBC’s Rock Center tonight, Brian Williams asked the president about some important foreign policy issues, including the attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans last month. Williams also brought up Israel to the president, and asked him why he has not visited Israel since becoming president.
Williams asked Obama if he was “happy with the intelligence” and with what he was able to learn as investigations got underway. Obama said a full investigation is ongoing, emphasizing that he intends to bring the terrorists behind the attack to justice with the expectation of cooperation from the Libyan government.
The president said he wants to make sure “nothing like this ever happens again.”
The president Obama defended his decision not to pay Israel a visit during his first term as president, noting that there are many other countries he also didn’t get a chance to visit in person.
“The truth of the matter is that there are a number of countries I didn’t visit,” Obama said. “I visited Israel just a number of months before I was president.”
He also said that he wanted to have something to show for his work on the Middle East peace process before he paid the Jewish state another visit.
“Given how important I think the situation in the Middle East is, and our partnership with Israel, which is stronger than it’s ever been — when I go to Israel, I want to make sure that we’re actually moving something forward,” Obama said.
Richard M. Nixon was the first American president to visit Israel when he did so in June 1974. Bill Clinton visited Jerusalem four times during his eight years in office, while neither of his two predecessors, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, ever visited the Jewish state.
George W. Bush did not visit Israel until his second term in the White House.
Obama also said that regarding his family life, he does not have any big plans for his post-presidency, quipping that his bigger concern is that his daughters get their homework done.