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Ticket pool report: Obama in Jerusalem and Ramallah

July 23, 2008 | 10:22 pm

From time to time, The Ticket will publish press pool reports filed by journalists who witness a political news event as a representative of the larger traveling press corps. The most recent Ticket pool report was published July 16 on Sen. John McCain.presidential nominee to be Barack Obama visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem Thursday 7-24-08

This one is on Sen. Barack Obama and is in two parts, one on his visit to the Western Wall and the other on his stop in Ramallah.

They are signed by the participating pool reporter and provided to The Ticket by The Times' Michael Finnegan, also traveling with the candidate.

Obama Pool Report No. 1
July 24, 2008, Jerusalem

Sen. Barack Obama left the King David Hotel at 5 a.m. Thursday and made the short drive in his motorcade to the Western Wall. The visit was unannounced by the campaign, but dozens of people clearly were anticipating his arrival in the Old City.

It was a brief visit to one of the most sacred spots in Jerusalem, the section of the western supporting wall of the Temple Mount.

Obama, wearing a white skullcap, made his way down a walkway toward the wall. He was escorted by the rabbi of the wall, Shmuel Rabinovich, and surrounded by many others when he reached the wall.

As the rabbi quietly read Psalm 122, both he and Obama flipped through a holy book on a wooden stand. A clear moon helped illuminate the still-dark sky. The moment unfolded as ....

... a lone man standing about 10 yards away yelled over and over: "Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale! Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale!"

After the prayer, Obama walked a final few paces to the wall and followed the custom of placing a personal note between the stone cracks, his prayers or wishes left alongside hundreds of others. Then he placed his hand on the wall, bowed his head and stood in quiet contemplation for a few moments.

The heckler continued his chant as Obama walked away from the wall. Several other men tried to drown out his voice with chants of "Obama, Obama, Obama." Dozens of people cheered and reached out to grab the senator's hand. About 10 minutes after he had arrived, his motorcade left the Old City and drove to the Tel Aviv airport.  -- Jeff Zeleny, New York Times

Obama Pool Report No. 2

Barack Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for one hour (15 minutes longer than scheduled) at the Mukata, the president's compound in Ramallah. The meeting began at 1:30 p.m. and ended at 2:30.

Obama was walked to his motorcade afterward by Abbas and lots of security. Obama waved but made no statement. His campaign plans to release a statement later today.

Color below:

Ramallah is about six miles north of Jerusalem, but it took half an hour to get there, driving fast. The motorcade left the King David Hotel at 12:55 p.m., drove north on Highway 1 and then into the West Bank. At 1:05 we stopped at the West Bank Hizma checkpoint along the separation barrier.

At 1:20 at the entrance to Ramallah, we passed a VIP checkpoint staffed by Israeli security forces. At this point, dozens of Palestinian forces wearing camouflage, helmets and vests and armed with semiautomatic rifles lined the road to the compound, their backs to the road.

At 1:25 we turned left into an entrance to the walled compound of connected sand-colored, two- and three-floor buildings with red-tile roofs. Yasser Arafat is buried in a crypt on the grounds of the compound, but Obama did not tour the grave site.

It was chaos trying to get inside the meeting. Dozens of local journalists were waiting, and Palestinian officials were reluctant to let the Obama pool through in the confusion.

Once the Obama pool was let in, there was a stampede up a set of stairs, and in the process a large potted plant was knocked over and the pot broken, spilling soil all over the floor. Staff with brooms immediately appeared and began sweeping.

We were taken through an upstairs hallway with four red oriental rugs and into a room where Obama was seated to the left of Abbas. A small coffee table and a tall Palestinian flag were between them, and photos of the late Arafat and Abbas himself were on the wall behind Abbas.

Fayyad was seated off to the right of Abbas. Obama was speaking softly to Abbas (inaudible), and the two were leaning in toward one another. We were permitted in only for a moment for photos, then ushered out. Obama was accompanied by advisors Dennis Ross, Jim Steinberg, Dan Shapiro, Susan Rice and Dan Kurtzer.  -- Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Tara Todras-Whitehill / Associated Press

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