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Obama's middle east visit - security is high, hopes are not

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Obama's middle east visit - security is high, hopes are not


In Israel, they are getting ready for an official visit by the US president Barack Obama.

He has already said he will not be bringing any new ‘grand peace plan’ for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather he will listen.

The trip is set against a background of sometimes turbulent recent relations between the two countries.

One resident of Jerusalem, who gave his name only as Assaf, said: “I don’t think it will help. I think the problems between Israeli and Palestinian nations, in the land of Israel, are too deep and cannot be resolved by one visit or one meeting between leaders, even for the leader of the United States.”

Nationally they are allies – but leaders Obama and Netanyahu have had a more testy relationship, predominantly over Israel’s insistence on building Jewish settlements on land Palestinians want for their state.

Israeli political analyst Eitan Gilboa said: “Obama has been re-elected. Netanyahu will be the next prime minister in Israel for a few years. They will have to work together. They will have to forget about the past and open a new page. Obama’s visit provides an opportunity to open a new page – on a personal level with Netanyahu and at a policy level with the new Israeli government.”

Obama is likely to press the Israelis and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table after talks broke down in 2010 over settlement building. A meeting with the head of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is also on the agenda. But there is little hope of a concrete breakthrough.

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