March 20 - U.S. President Barack Obama departs for his visit to the Middle East, as Israel beefs up security ahead of his arrival. Sarah Sheffer reports.
President Barack Obama departs Joint Base Andrews en route to Israel Tuesday. His first trip to the area as president, Obama arrives without any new peace initiative to offer disillusioned Palestinians, and faces Israeli doubts over his pledge to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. He hopes to reset fraught relations with both Israelis and Palestinians in the three-day stay. Meanwhile, Israel was beefing up security ahead of the president's arrival. For three days residents will have to contend with Obama's convoy as he meets Israeli leaders, tours historical sites and shuttles back and forth from the Palestinian city of Ramallah. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JONATHAN SHORE, RESIDENT OF JERUSALEM, SAYING: "It really messes up traffic in the neighbourhood and I don't know, I mean, I hope things go really well with whoever he's meeting with". (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANER HAJAJRA, RESIDENT OF JERUSALEM, SAYING: "The blocking of the streets is not very...it's not very easy thing and its not very convenient for me and anyway it's only for three days and for Obama it's fine". About 5,000 police and security officers will be deployed in Jerusalem each day. Main streets will be blocked off and police helicopters will escort the presidential caravan.