As U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the West Bank comes close, an official from Washington says the U.S. leader will not bring any peace place as the Jewish state is not ready to make concessions, a newspaper reported Sunday.
When President Obama was asked by a group of Arab-American leaders during a meeting last week on why he did not intend to launch a new peace process, the leader said that Israel was not ready to make concessions, the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, cited an official, who was present at the high-level meeting, as saying.
The official, who kept his identity anonymous, said the U.S. leader was frustrated with fruitlessness of the peace process, claiming it would be pointless to pressure the Israeli government at this time.
Obama arrives on Wednesday for his first trip to the region as president.
At the luxurious King David hotel in Jerusalem, where the president and his entourage will begin their stay, chefs have been busy finalizing special dishes and anticipating the VIP requests, the Associated Press reported.
The historic hotel, which opened in the 1930s and was once headquarters of the British government during the British
Mandate, is no stranger to hosting visiting dignitaries.
However, because Obama is visiting days before the Jewish holiday of Passover, when Jews are forbidden from eating unleavened bread, his menu will be bereft of breads, pastas and other starches.
Jerusalem municipality crews, meanwhile, have been busy hanging a plethora of Stars and Stripes flags, getting ready for the high-profile visitor from the United States.
A factory making those flags has been working full throttle, preparing U.S. flags for the visit.
The factory manufactures flags for official visits of leaders from around the world, but factory owner Avi Marom says the Obama visit is very special.
“As one of the workers said here: ‘It’s the president of the world’,” he explains.
To protect Obama and keep order during the visit, hundreds of police officers and security personnel will be deployed.
“The Israeli police…will be in full action. There’s a large amount of cooperation which is also taking place between the Israeli police and American security,” says police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
He says the full deployment is understandable: “This is the most important visit that is taking place since President [George W.] Bush’s visit in 2009.”
Obama to visit West Bank
Obama is also expected to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
Palestinian and American security forces have been preparing and inspecting the area of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a revered site for Christians.
The Palestinians are intent on showing the president what life is like under Israeli occupation.
President Mahmoud Abbas leads a self-rule government that enjoys limited autonomy in the West Bank. But Israel wields overall control of the area, which the Palestinians claim as the heartland of their future state.
Upon reaching Ramallah, just a short distance from Jerusalem, Obama will be greeted by large posters with his image that read – “President Obama: Don’t bring your smartphone to Ramallah. We have no 3G in Palestine!”
Israeli authorities, who control mobile networks in the West Bank, have not granted Palestinian telecommunication companies 3G frequencies.