By Julian Pecquet - 05/29/12 07:21 PM EDT
The group met with Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian Authority officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Udall called the two candidates vying for Egypt's presidency next month — a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and deposed leader Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister — “fairly polarizing figures.” He said his visit made it clear that while the Mubarak-era ties with the United States are still valued, “people don't want us to put our thumb on the scale.”
Udall added that Israel has reached out to the Brotherhood to “send out feelers and make the case that the treaty has actually been beneficial to not just Egypt and Israel but to the region.” He made the case that the Suez canal is a “huge” revenue source for Egypt and could be adversely affected by any worsening of the relationship with Israel.
Regarding the violence in Syria, Udall said officials in the region are as unsure about the next steps as they are in the United States.
“I didn't hear an easy way forward,” Udall said. “There's a lot of concern about what's happening to the people of Syria at the top of everybody's list, there's also concern still about arming the opposition whom no one really seems to know, even in the region. I do think the regional leadership has to take the lead.”