(JERUSALEM) Neither jet lag nor distance stopped Barack Obama from meeting with a slew of Israeli and Palestinian leaders today. In less than 24 hours, Obama managed to go from Jerusalem, to Ramallah, to Sderot, and back to Jerusalem all with the help of a high-speed motorcade and a helicopter provided by the Israeli Defense Department.
Obama's morning meetings with Defense Secretary Ehud Barak and Likud Party Leader Benjamin Netanyahu were just an elevator ride and a few steps away from his hotel room at the renowned King David Hotel. He admitted to Netanyahu, though, that he was jet lagged from his almost week-long trip so far.
"I could fall asleep standing up," Obama said.
An 11-car motorcade later whisked Obama and senior campaign advisors to Beit Hanasi, the residence of President Shimon Peres. During the less than hour long meeting, Peres told Obama that he read both of his books, and "was moved as a human... a human being" by his writing.
Then it was off to Ramallah, which included a stop at a VIP check point on the border between Israel and the West Bank. As Obama crossed the border, which is made up of 12 foots slabs of concrete, Palestinian security vehicles joined his motorcade. The road to the Mukata complex was lined with hundreds of fatigue clad Palestinian forces sporting new protective vests and automatic weapons.
Upon returning to Jerusalem, Obama headed to a helipad, where he boarded an Israeli Blackhawk helicopter with Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. They flew on an almost hour long flight to the southwestern city of Sderot, just four miles away from the Gaza border. On the flight, Obama was able to see some of Jerusalem's Holy sites, including the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.
Hours later, Obama flew back to Jerusalem, where he rejoined his motorcade and was whisked off to a dinner with Prime Minister Olmert. With three more days left on his Middle East and Europe tour and more packed schedules to come, Obama would likely admit he'll will need some serious R&R when he returns to the United States.