World Bulletin / News Desk
U.S. President Barack Obama will embrace Jewish history while skirting the morass of illegal settlements in occupied West Bank when he visits Israel this week - a selective itinerary laden with diplomatic signals.
The tour runs from Wednesday to Friday.
Obama will visit the grave in Jerusalem of Theodor Herzl, the Zionist visionary who died more than four decades before the 1948 occupation. Reaching back further, he will view ancient Jewish parchments at Israel's main museum.
Known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, they were discovered in the West Bank - today occupied by the Israelis. The United States says the land should be part of an independent Palestine.
Obama will not go to Western Wall
Obama's visit includes a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a separate West Bank excursion to Bethlehem - both by helicopter, skipping over Israeli bulldozers, walls and troops in the occupied territory.
Abbas told the Russia Today television station on Friday: "President Obama said several times he was against (Israeli) settlement...Israel has been making mistakes every day and no one has pointed the finger of blame at them."
The helicopter hops will limit Obama's exposure to ordinary Palestinians. Outraged at their stalled statehood drive, Palestinian protesters defaced scores of pictures of the U.S. president during scattered street protests on Monday.
Wariness of heckling by pro-settler hawks also appears to have been behind Obama's decision not to address the Knesset, Israel's parliament.
Instead, he will speak to Israeli students on Thursday invited by the U.S. Embassy - which excluded a university recently founded in the West Bank settlement Ariel.
Unlike when he last visited, as a U.S. senator in 2008, Obama will not go to the Western Wall, Judaism's most important prayer plaza. It is located at the heart of East Jerusalem, among lands Israel occupied.
By tradition, worshippers and tourists alike leave notes in the cracks of the wall, a gesture Obama may want to avoid as Israelis and Palestinians try to divine U.S. strategy. His handwritten notes of 2008 was quickly prised out by onlookers and published in the media.
Obama's first port of call after landing in Tel Aviv will be a nearby Iron Dome battery.
Palestinians disappointed after high hopes
Obama's Jerusalem visit is anticipated with mixed feelings. The hole city is in action before Obama's visit. There are a lot of different expectations and opinions on the issue.
Anadolu Agency spoke to ordinary people of Jerusalem about the upcoming visit of Obama.
Shop owner Mohammed said, "We do not expect anything. Because we do not trust any Americans."
He stated the United States do nothing other than talk about the Israeli-Palestinian problem in the past 20 years.
"I did not trust Bush, neither Obama. We know what Americans did very well. We saw what they did in Vietnam, Japan, Iraq and Afganistan." Mohammed underlined Obama's visit shows his support for Israel, not for Palestine.
Ultra-orthodox Aron Shapiro said in front of the Wailing Wall that he believes Obama does a good job. His only criticism concerns about Iran's nuclear issue. Shapiro complains that the US does not press enough on Iran and added, "We saw how diplomatic behavior end in the Hitler era. It is the time that the US and Obama take this issue seriously."
Another critical view came from the student David. He said the US lost his old power and had not enough impact on global issues. The US has his own problems to solve and must move back from the Middle East. About the reasons for Obama's visit David told, "We know his view about Israel. The only reason for his visit is not to get in to any problems with the Jews in the United States."
The Palestinian habitants in Jerusalem are not hopeful about Obama's visit.
Fuad Mansoor from Jerusalem interpreted Obama's visit as a "disaster". He said, "Muslims and Palestinians had high expectations when he was elected in 2008. But the result was opposite."
Mansoor claimed Obama's visit will be the confirmation of the occupation of Jerusalem.
After Barack Obama's arrival on Wednesday in Tel Aviv Airport he will be welcomed in Jerusalem by a formal ceremony where Israel's President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will attend. It is expected that Obama will also meet the President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.Last Mod: 19 Mart 2013, 16:32