The meeting was held several hours after rocket fire from Gaza resumed, with one rocket hitting the backyard of a house in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. The Palestinian president's political advisor, Nimar Hamed, said that Abbas condemned the rocket fire.
- Iron Dome operators moved by Obama's 'warmth'
Report: Abbas 'eager' to resume talks
PM to Obama: Israel cannot cede right to self-defense
"We condemn violence against civilians, no matter where it originates," Abbas was quoted as saying. "We are in favor of establishing mutual and comprehensive calm in the Gaza Strip, and therefore I supported the agreement Hamas and Israel reached through Egyptian mediation."
Palestinian news agency covered a protest held during the Obama-Abbas meeting, in which hundreds of Palestinians expressed their anger over the visit. One of them hurled a shoe at Obama's picture and urged him to "leave Palestine." Another declared, "I want to return to my forefathers' village," referring to the right of return.
Earlier Thursday, the American president visited a special exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where he viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls and Israeli technological innovations.
Several anti-Obama protests were held in Ramallah in recent days ahead of the visit, raising concerns among Palestinian security forces and American security guards of plans to create a provocation.
Obama was greeted at the Muqata to the sounds of a military orchestra, which escorted a presidential guard procession. All Palestinian ministers arrived to welcome the American president.
More than 100 reporters from all over the world arrived at the Muqataa in the early morning hours ahead of the Obama-Abbas meeting. The president held a short meeting with an extended American-Palestinian team before sitting down with Abbas for about half an hour.
Obama and Abbas at the Muqataa (Photo: AFP)
At the end of the meeting, the two will hold a joint press conference, after which they will have lunch together. Obama will then leave the Muqataa for a visit at a young people's center in al-Bireh, where he will meet with Palestinian youth accompanied by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He is expected to return to Jerusalem in the afternoon hours.
An Israeli state official responded to the rocket fire Thursday morning, saying that "the Israeli response will come at the right time and at the right place."
Addressing the Abbas-Obama meeting, the official added: "It will be interesting to see whether the Palestinian Authority chairman, who did not condemn the rocket fire throughout Operation Pillar of Defense, will do it today.
"It's also interesting to see if this rocket fire, carried out from an area controlled by Hamas, will prompt the PA chairman to halt the unity talks he has been holding with a terror organization calling for Israel's destruction."
Palestinian officials lowered expectations ahead of the visit. The Palestinian leadership is in agreement that the American president's visit will not lead to an immediate breakthrough in peace talks, as it is not backed by a peace plan.
"If he says he has come to listen – we'll tell him what we demand," a Palestinian diplomatic official told Ynet. Abbas was expected to demand a freeze in settlement construction and the release of prisoners jailed by Israeli before the Oslo agreement as preconditions for entering negotiations with Israel.
The New York Times on Thursday quoted a draft set of talking points prepared for the Abbas-Obama meeting, according to which the Palestinian president was so eager to resume peace talks that he may soften his demands.
Meanwhile, senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath said Thursday that the coming year was crucial in terms of the two-state solution.
Roi Kais contributed to this report
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: email@example.com
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop