President Obama was welcomed with fanfare and military flourishes at the Palestinian Authority headquarters in this West Bank city in front of a big sign proclaiming Palestinian statehood — just hours after the Israeli military detected four rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza.
He arrived by helicopter amid tight security, a day after receiving an elaborate welcoming in Israel, where he was serenaded by children, signed guest books, exchanged warm words, and toured a missile battery with the close US ally.
Palestinian Authority and American snipers lined the roof of the tall complex of government buildings next to a large portrait of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
A military brass band played the US National Anthem and the Palestinian anthem, along with a song by Lebanese singer Fairuz, who has sung about the Palestinian struggle.
Obama was greeted Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. The two walked toward an outdoor podium, while Secret Service Agents walked alongside the president’s moving limo using its open doors to block sightlines.
The two walked a red carpet and stood before a bank of cameras to watch the band and a military procession of troops with AK-47s, but didn’t make remarks outside.
Just across from them was a tall banner with huge pictures of Arafat and Abbas superimposed over a photo of East Jerusalem – which Palestinians want to make their capital. In Arabic, the sign said “UN state of Palestine,” with the UN logo below it, a reference to the Palestinian Authority’s controversial move to get UN observer status.
Obama and Abbas give a press conference today. Obama also visits a Palestinian youth center, and delivers a speech to students in Israel. Read more at BBC News