Abbas welcomes Obama with honor guard, anthems

The president has touched down in Ramallah, where he’s greeted by Abbas.

Anthems are played. The two inspect an honor guard, fairly briefly. Obama is introduced to PA officials, including Salam Fayyad, the prime minister and negotiator Saeb Erekat, and to religious and military figures. Among them, the heads of US-trained security forces.

Abbas is introduced to Obama’s delegation, including Kerry.

This is all far more perfunctory than the Ben-Gurion Airport festivities yesterday. The footage of this section of the visit is being supervised by the PA, and the TV director lingers long on flagpoles at the Mukata flying Palestinian and American flags, fluttering in the breeze.

Channel 10’s Emanuel Rosen says Kerry is “dead serious” about making progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front, and that “everyone is saying they haven’t felt anything like this for years.” Rosen said earlier that Netanyahu might be prepared to sanction an unannounced settlement freeze — just to quietly halt settlement expansion — to enable a new attempt at negotiation.

Obama and Abbas have now begun their direct talks.

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