HAARETZ (Israel), WAFA (Palestine),  REUTERS, AP


RAMALLAH – Barack Obama arrived Thursday in Ramallah in the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders, on the second day of his visit to the Middle East.

The U.S. President met with President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah’s presidential headquarters to emphasize the importance of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, a message AP says was underscored when Palestinian militants in Gaza launched two rockets into southern Israel.

Obama was still in Jerusalem, some 80 kilometers away from the border town of Sderot where one of the rockets exploded in the courtyard of a house early in the morning, causing damage but no injuries; the other rocket landed in an open field, Reuters reports.

"We condemn violence against civilians regardless of its source, including rocket firing," Abbas was quoted as saying by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The second leg of Obama’s four-day Mideast tour started more calmly with a visit to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where he saw the Dead Sea Scrolls, accompanied by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Haaretz reports.

After his meeting with Abbas, Obama will attend a cultural event at Al-Bireh Youth Center and will meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad. He will then give a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center, before attending a dinner hosted by Israeli President Peres where he will receive the Presidential Medal of Distinction.

[Source: White House]