Obama Plans to Visit Oft-Targeted Israeli Town

The Daily Record

July 22, 2008, Aman, Jordan – Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama intends to visit a southern Israeli town that is a frequent target of rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza, campaign aides accompanying him on his Mideast trip said Tuesday.

The stop in Sderot is part of a crowded day of events on Wednesday in which the Illinois senator has also arranged to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on the West Bank and with Israeli leaders.

Obama is on a weeklong trip of Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe. He arrived in Jordan on Tuesday for talks with King Abdullah after a two-day tour of Iraq.

Susan Rice, a foreign policy adviser, said Obama wanted to go to Sderot because it is a “place in which Israel’s security is every day at risk and threatened. And Sen. Obama will have the opportunity to see that first hand and get a very personal feel for the everyday” difficulties. His schedule indicates he intends to spend slightly more than an hour there.

In Jerusalem on Tuesday, an Israeli civilian shot and killed a Palestinian man who had rammed a construction vehicle into cars and a bus near the downtown hotel where Obama was scheduled to stay later in the day. At least four people were injured in the attack, which resembled a deadly vehicle assault that took place in the city earlier this month.

Obama’s trip to Iraq and Afghanistan was an official congressional trip, paid for with federal funds. The balance of his travels are financed by his presidential campaign.

The Illinois Democrat is working to shore up support among American Jewish voters, many of whom supported Hillary Rodham Clinton in the battle for the party’s presidential nomination, and some of whom have questioned his commitment to Israel.

Obama’s schedule for Wednesday also includes a visit to Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. Aides said a stop at the Western Wall, one of the holiest places in Judaism, was also a possibility.

In addition to Abbas, Obama’s meeting list for the day includes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and members of his Cabinet as well as Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the opposition Likud party and a former prime minister.

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