Presidential hopeful Barak Obama, has now left Israel and the place is abuzz with talk.
Here is what I am hearing from here on the ground as I move around Jerusalem;
Overall, Israel is pleased both with the visit and statements made by Senator Obama. For their part the Palestinians are happy that Mr. Obama made the trip to Ramallah to see President Abbas – even if it were only for about an hour.
For the Palestinian residing here there are cries of 'foul' as far as equality in attention given. But for Obama, this was a gain for over his rival, Senator John McCain who only telephoned the Palestinian leader on his last trip here to Israel. Such actions give the perception to the Palestinians that they don't really matter, and while that aire still exists for Obama's camp too, at least the Palestinians have a feeling they will be listened to to some degree.
Back here in Israel the majority of folk feel that this was a courting of their vote. Israelis were keen to hear how tough the presidential hopeful would talk on a nuclear Iran. Using the backdrop of Serdot with a wall of fired rockets behind him, Mr. Obama pleaded a non-nuclear armed Iran – pleasing people with what they heard.
And the other big topic is the peace process. Overall, the Democratic candidate is pledging a quick settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The Senator clarified near the end of his visit to Israel that the peace process will be a top priority for him as President, and that he intends to be more involved than outgoing President Bush. This lays aside the fears of some who thought that he would focus completely on his commitment to Iraq and the situation in Afghanistan.
Obama essentially said he will not change the peace formula made before him and that that the settlement for peace will essentially be two states for two peoples.
With my ear to the ground – I thank you for checking in on the Blog!