Palestinians unenthusiastic about Obama visit
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - President Barack Obama will find a disillusioned Palestinian public, sceptical about his commitment to promoting Mid-East peace, when he visits the region.
Mr Obama's trip, beginning on Wednesday, appears aimed primarily at resetting the sometimes troubled relationship with Israel. But winning the trust of the Palestinians, who accuse him of unfairly favouring Israel, could be a far more difficult task.
After suffering disappointments during the first Obama administration, Palestinians see little reason for optimism in his new term. The White House announcement that Mr Obama will not present any new peace initiatives strengthened their conviction that the US leader isn't prepared to put the pressure on Israel that they think is necessary to end four years of deadlock in negotiations.
"Obama is coming for Israel, not for us," said Mohammed Albouz, a 55-year-old Palestinian farmer. "Obama will come and go as his predecessors did, without doing anything." While Israel is preparing to give Mr Obama the red-carpet treatment, there are few signs of excitement in the West Bank. Large posters of Obama hung in Ramallah last week were quickly defaced, and a small group of activists called "The Campaign for Dignity" plans on releasing black balloons into the air in a sign of mourning when Mr Obama arrives.