Rockets hit Israel as Obama meets Palestinians

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March 21, 2013, 5:54 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Tracie Potts) - We're getting pictures in from Israel, as President Barack Obama prepares to meet with the head of the Palestinian authority amid new violence in the region.

We got word that Palestinian militants fired a rocket into southern Israel. Early reports show property damage but no one hurt. But this just underscores one of the reasons for the President's trip.

The rocket fire into southern Israel came amid protests of President Obama's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The West Bank is not happy with what they've heard so far:

"There was very little said except the fact that peace is in the interests of Israel," says Hanan Ashrawi, on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee.

"I actually believe that Israel's security will be enhanced with a resolution to this issue," said President Obama.

Experts say the US could play a key role here:

"Unless the Americans exert leadership and push both sides to reach an understanding and hopefully final peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, this issue will always be exploited by the radicals in the region," says Hisham Melhem, Washington Bureau Chief Al-Arabiya.

On Iran developing a nuclear weapon, Obama and Israel's prime minister agree: it's at least a year away.

And despite differences in their approach, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed satisfied with Obama's commitment:

“I'm absolutely convinced that the President is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. I appreciate that," said Netanyahu.

"I think there is time to resolve this issue diplomatically," the President said.

"Diplomacy and sanctions must be augmented by clear and credible threat of military action," said Israel’s Prime Minister.

Back in Jerusalem, President Obama will give his keynote speech to Israel's youth, wrapping up this goodwill mission in a region still hoping for peace.

A poll in the Israeli press says only 10-percent of Israeli's have a favorable view of President Obama.

Tags: rockets, Iran, Israel, President Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, peace , Tracie Potts, NBC news, jersualem, hanan ashrawi, hisham melhem
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