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President Obama to visit Israel this spring

President Obama will visit Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan this spring, the White House announced Tuesday.

It will be his first trip to Israel as president. Republicans have been hotly critical of Obama for not having visited before now.

The planned trip came after a Jan. 28 talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said. 

"The start of the president's second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria," National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement. 

Obama did travel to Israel as a senator in July of 2008 during his run for president.

NBC's Shawna Thomas contributed to this report.