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Palestinians hold posters depicting US President Barack Obama in an Israeli military uniform during a protest against his visit in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, March. 19, 2013. Obama�s trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank will take place March 20-22, and it is the U.S. leader�s first trip to the region as president, and his first overseas trip since being reelected

Nasser Shiyoukhi, Associated Press - Ap

An Israeli protester holds a sign depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish American who was jailed for life in 1987 on charges of spying on the United States, in Jerusalem, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. Obama�s trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank will take place March 20-22, and it is the U.S. leader�s first trip to the region as president, and his first overseas trip since being reelected. Hebrew on signs read: "Honorable president, save Pollard"

Sebastian Scheiner, Associated Press - Ap

Protests, pleas and gifts ahead of Obama's visit

  • Associated Press
  • March 19, 2013 - 6:13 PM

JERUSALEM - Preparing for the scheduled arrival of President Barack Obama Wednesday, the wife of Israel's premier has prepared gifts to take home with him. Sarah Netanyahu will send Michelle Obama a traditional plate used for the festival of Passover, which starts next week. A statement from the Prime Minister's Office said the plate can be used during the White House's annual Passover meal.

Daughters Sasha and Malia will receive chains with silver medallions in the form of David's harp. Even Bo, the presidential dog, will get a gift: a rubber hamburger chew toy.

The gifts were chosen after a call for suggestions on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Facebook page. Some users suggested giving the family pieces of rockets fired from Gaza by Palestinian militants.

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More than 2,000 protesters in Jerusalem Tuesday demanded that Obama release Jonathan Pollard, an American spy who was jailed for giving thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers.

Protesters held posters that read "Welcome Mr. President! Please free Pollard." Other signs had the images of Obama and Pollard and read, "Yes, you can." Others hoisted giant pictures of American legislators who support Pollard's release.

Israel has been pressuring the U.S. to set Pollard free after 28 years in prison, and his case has become a rallying cry for Israelis, who hope Obama might be the one to pardon him. Obama has said he has no immediate plans to release Pollard.

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In the West Bank city of Ramallah Tuesday, dozens of Palestinians protested against Obama's visit. Some hurled their shoes at images of Obama and held signs that read "Obama is non grata in Palestine."

A similar show of opposition came Monday in the town of Bethlehem, where protesters burned a banner bearing Obama's image. Obama is set to visit both places during his trip.

The Palestinians have for long felt disenchanted by the U.S., accusing it of bias in Israel's favor.

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Activists from the dovish Israeli group Peace Now have unfurled a giant banner that reads "we the people want peace." The banner is lying flat on a field between Israel's international airport and Jerusalem, placed strategically so that Obama will fly over it on his helicopter ride to Jerusalem on Wednesday.

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