Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman headed to American Saturday night, for his first official state visit since taking office.
During his trip, Liberman will be meeting with several senior US administration officials, including his counterpart Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
On top of the agenda will be ongoing discussions concerning an upgraded military aid package to Israel, which has yet to be fully hammered out.
Senior officials close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Arutz Sheva last week that the PM is pushing to seal the aid package – which would include, for the first time, an "anchored" sum for missile defense spending – before the end of President Barack Obama's term in office.
Liberman's predecessor Moshe Ya'alon had a very good working relationship with Carter, which had helped speed the process along somewhat; Israel's new defense minister will have significant work to do in quickly reaffirming those ties.
With that in mind, there is no doubt that Liberman's maiden visit as defense minister will be just as much about making a good "first impression", shoring up his new persona as a "pragmatic" politician, which he touted as coalition negotiations to bring his Yisrael Beytenu party into government drew to a close. Here, too, Liberman will have his work cut out for him, given the reputation he cultivated as a "hardliner" during his previous term in government as foreign minister.
But Liberman's recent pronouncements of support for the Arab Peace Initiative and a two-state solution – which drew praise from Obama administration officials – will certainly go some way to appeasing the White House. As will the memory that, while other Israeli government officials (including Ya'alon) harshly criticized US Secretary of State John Kerry's last push for a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, Liberman was quick to defend America's top diplomat.
So, will Liberman succeed in appeasing the Obama administration and advancing the latest aid package? Time will tell.