Whose guest is he anyway? Obama's Israeli-Palestinian hosts prep their contiguous Holy Land tours
In the build up to Obama’s inaugural presidential visit to the holy lands of the Middle East, longtime partners in warring, the Palestinians and Israelis can finally agree on something. They will be putting on a jolly good show for their iminent guest of honor – the American President.
But a twin aim of being good hosts is to thrown on their respective propaganda plays. Whether to curry favor with the big Barack or to revise global opinion, neither party is taking a chance with this supersize opportunity.
They’re pulling out all the stops for the American leader and his media entourage on their first political visit to Israel and the West Bank. Included on the Jewish side of the fence’s tour will be Israel’s, sensitive as it is deep, archaeological excavation in east Jerusalem. A report by AP cites state officials suggesting that journalists can boycott the West Bank strand of the travelling tour when Obama meets with Palestinian leaders.
Back at the Arab camp, the Palestinian delegates have got a surprise prisoner family lined up for the Obama trail. They will be introducing this family of Palestinian captive held by Israel to the US President.
These highlights of Obama's Holy-Land itinerary are just some of the treats in store for the US President whose relationship with Israeli leader Bibi Netanyahu is fraught and littered with snubs.
Obama will have to scale the road-map of this Arab-Jewish trek with care, lest he show preference for one tour guide over the other. When he visits the contested lands next week, each side will be poised to to push their agendas his way.
Activists have indicated a full intent to ambush Obama with posters and protests that showcase life under Israeli occupation.
For Israel's part, it will be seeking commitment from the US on dealig with Iran's supposed nuclear capability. While he has made no big promises for solutions, Obama will nonetheless have his work cut out with lulling Palestinians into trusting that he is sincere about getting their peace petition back off the pad. He will need to show a willingness to coax Israel into letting up on some of the contentious issues.
All three parties, including the travelling President, have a design for this special guest, and no one will want to miss a beat. Not even the Israeli Architects Association who promise to head up a tour of the West Bank settlements that focuses on "aspects of design", rather than politics, according to an insider statement.
Both sides openly professed to “taking advantage” of the visit to put the holy city’s best face forward..”