Obama heads to the West Bank on second day of Middle East tour
Barack Obama was cordially greeted by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on his arrival in the West Bank city of Ramallah on the second day of his first official visit to Israel.
Obama flew by Marine One helicopter over the barbed wire fences and walls of the Israeli separation barrier to meet the Palestinian leader who looked much dismayed and bore a solemn face as he accompanied the US president on the red carpet.
It is reported, in spite of tight cordon security around the Muqatta presidential compound, around 150 Palestinian protestors could be seen and heard shouting “Obama, you are not welcome here, get out of Ramallah!”
Posters depicting a defaced Obama were also seen around the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem and anti-US sentiment has bubbled up in Palestine with people posting messages like “do not enter, the people of Palestine do not welcome you here,” on social media sites.
Ahead of Obama’s visit to the West Bank, two rockets allegedly fired by militants in the Hamas-run Gaza strip hit southern Israel, the Israeli military confirmed.
One exploded in the backyard of a house in Sderot, causing damage to the property and the other landed in a nearby field, in a town very close to the Gaza border which was visited by Obama on his previous trip in 2008.
Abbas has condemned the attacks in his statement to a local radio and military officials have acknowledged the attacks as deliberately timed to coincide with the US president’s visit. However, there has been no claim of responsibility from Hamas or any other militant groups as yet.
The White House has given no comments on the incident but a senior Israeli official has said the government would be watching closely to see if it would impact on Abbas’s plans for political reconciliation with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
The US President is expected to restate his vision of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over his talks with Abbas.