Obama heads to Ramallah, amid talk of steps toward new peace talks

The president is now on his way to Ramallah, for talks with Mahmoud Abbas.

“Don’t eat too much in Ramallah,” Peres urged him just now at the Israel Museum. As in, save some room for the state dinner tonight.

Channel 10 is reporting that Abbas is no longer going to be formally demanding a settlement freeze as a precondition for resumed peace talks, quoting a New York Times report to that effect.

Certainly, thinking is in Israel, Obama would not be sending Secretary of State John Kerry on a hopeless mission to re-energize the peace process. (Kerry is coming back here Saturday night after accompanying Obama to Jordan.) Obama must believe that substantive progress is possible. Hebrew newspaper coverage here this morning is full of analysis about how Obama is charming Israel — but not to be fooled, he’s “softening us up,” as a Yedioth Ahronoth analysis has it, for the pressure to come.

Word is that Obama will mention this morning’s rocket fire on the south during his public comments in Ramallah.

ToI’s Elhanan Miller in Ramallah reports: “Plenty of people out on the streets awaiting Obama. Not an American flag in sight.”

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