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Hopes and skepticism ahead of Obama Mideast trip

Israelis are preparing for the upcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, who is due to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories March 20th. In the past year, the White House has voiced condemnation of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank -- something U.S. presidents have described for decades as an obstacle to peace. Expectations are low (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) RESIDENT OF TEL AVIV, MOSHE FLEISHMAN, SAYING: "I think that he is not popular in the country, I think that the impression he has is that he is ignoring the Israeli government and our needs". In Ramallah demonstrators continue to call for the release of Palestinian prisoners. Some hope that Obama can help. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UM KHALED, MOTHER OF A PALESTINIAN PRISONER ON HUNGER STRIKE IN ISRAELI JAIL, SAYING: "We expect (U.S. President Barack) Obama to secure the release of the Palestinian prisoners who are on (hunger) strike as well as those on administrative dentition.

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