U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama has ended a week long trip to
Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem that Israelis and Palestinians
say the Illinois senator left a positive impression during his visit.
Obama wrapped up his trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories
with a pre-dawn visit to Jerusalem's Wailing Wall - the holiest site in
Obama's visit to Israel was seen by many Israelis as an
attempt to gain favor with U.S. Jewish voters, because polls show many
have reservations about his support for Israel.
like Tony Jason who avidly followed Obama's visit say many Israelis
support the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.
like to send a message to the American voting public and in particular
the American Jewish communities that we are Israelis, we live in
Israel, we are part of Israeli society and we feel confident in a
Barack Obama presidency," he said.
Much of Obama's visit to
Israel focused on reassuring Israelis that he supports their concerns
over a nuclear Iran and their concerns over security issues in
general. In remarks with Israeli leaders, Obama vowed support for
Israel, saying he would not press its leaders to make concessions that
would compromise their country's security.
For many Israelis
the highlight of the Obama visit was his trip to the city of Sderot,
battered by rocket fire from Palestinian militants from across the Gaza
Uri Dromi, a columnist and director of a conference
center involved in conflict resolution issues in Jerusalem, says
Obama's Sderot visit left a good impression with Israelis.
was very wise to go to Sderot, which is really a sore issue here in
Israel," he noted. "The way he expressed himself saying if someone
fired missiles into his home where his daughters live, that he would do
anything in his capacity to stop it that is exactly the kind of
rhetoric that resonates well in Israel. So I think yes, he made a very
Obama's visit to the West Bank drew a more
subdued response and he confined himself to meetings with moderate
Palestinian leaders like President Mahmoud Abbas.
generally welcomed his commitment that if elected president he will
immediately begin working to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hani Al-Masri a political analyst and independent journalist in the
West Bank says Palestinians also wanted to hear more from Obama about
the issues they deal with every day living under Israeli occupation.
(Palestinians) want him to be fair," Al-Masri said. "Because the
Palestinians are under occupation and he said nothing about the
occupation or about settlements and he did not want to face the press
because he wanted to avoid questions about the settlements and about
the Israeli policies."
Most Israelis and Palestinians say they
realize Obama's visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories had
more to do with U.S. domestic politics than with resolving their
60-year-old conflict. But as he left the region many Israelis and
Palestinians said they were reassured by Obama, and many say that if
the Illinois senator does win the presidency in November they believe
he will soon be back in the region to act on the promises he made
during his visit.