President Barack Obama continued the first foreign trip of his second term in Israel on Thursday, flying into Ramallah to meet with the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas.
The reception appeared warm and there were handshakes all round, but Obama brought nothing new with him; no relaunched peace process or anything of substance to offer the Palestinian people. Indeed many Palestinians blame him for the collapse of peace talks in 2010 when, in their opinion, he did not put enough pressure on Israel to stop building settlements on land seized from them in 1967, and occupied ever since.
Gaza is not on Obama’s schedule, and militants there fired a couple of missiles into Israel on Thursday morning in a show of defiance. The target, Sderot, was symbolic, as Obama had visited it in 2008 as a presidential candidate and mentioned it by name in a speech on Wednesday.
Earlier on Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took his guest on a tour of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. On Friday Obama will visit Bethlehem before flying on to Jordan.