Middle East

Jerusalem voices: Views on Obama's visit

US President Barack Obama goes to Jerusalem on Wednesday on his first trip to the region since his re-election and his first visit to Israel as president. This comes at a time of deadlock in Middle East peace talks, in which the US has historically played a major role. The BBC's Raffi Berg asked Israelis and Palestinians in East and West Jerusalem about what they would like to hear from the president.

Samir Salbian, Palestinian student, 15

Obama only helps Israel and he doesn't do anything for the Palestinians. The US gives money to the Israelis, but Palestinians are poor.

Lots of Palestinians don't have jobs and they spend their days looking for work. If Obama wants to help the Palestinians he should begin by giving us money to help create employment in Palestine.

I go to college but struggle to pay the fees. If more Palestinians had jobs, it would help peace.

Tehila Avitan, Israeli student, 17

I think President Obama is good for Israel and I'm glad he is coming here. He has good intentions so far as Israel is concerned.

Obama has stood by Israel while most of the world has been against us. He's not as good as President Bush was though.

The conflict with the Palestinians is a big and complicated problem, and although he can help, it will take more than President Obama to solve it.

Azmi Hashim, Palestinian taxi driver, 62

If the US wants to solve the Israel-Palestinian problem Obama needs to get Israel to go back to the border [ceasefire lines] of 1967. That is the simplest way to bring peace between the two sides.

The problem is, I think Obama believes the Israelis more than the Palestinians. He is much more sympathetic towards them.

America is still an important player in this playground but if Obama really wants to make a difference, he should start by putting more pressure on Israel.

Mordechai Kenin, Israeli shop worker, 36

I don't think Obama supports Israel enough and he doesn't really understand the politics here. He needs to learn more about Israeli history, about how the Jews built this country. He thinks Jews only came here 100 years ago but we've been here since the time of the Bible.

Obama needs to get the Palestinians to really want peace, but even when the US tells them want needs to be done, they don't listen - like [former Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat didn't listen to [former US President Bill] Clinton at Camp David.

The Palestinians were offered a state but walked away. Obama should realise they don't really want peace.

Abeer Samara, Palestinian waitress, 20

I want peace but the only way to get it is for Obama to get more concessions from Israel. Also, America should give the Palestinians more money - it gives so much to Israel.

It's a complicated situation, but I think if America can help solve the issue of Jerusalem, then peace will follow. I'm not sure how much I like Obama - I think he's so-so - but one thing is for sure, he's better for the Palestinians than [former US President George W] Bush.

Moshe Kempinski, Israeli teacher, 60

Obama needs to become more culturally sensitive. He needs to understand what it means to "think Middle Eastern". The problem not just with the US but with the West in general is it tries to impose its way of thinking on the Middle East, but there are political and cultural differences.

In the West, when you offer your hand in peace it's seen as a sign of strength, but here, extending your hand is viewed as a sign of weakness, and Obama doesn't realise, even though I think his intentions are good.