Obama arrives in Israel
US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama arrived late Tuesday in Israel after earlier meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman.
The senator is to meet Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the dpa reported.
"The most important idea for me to reaffirm is the historic and special relationship between the United States and Israel, one that cannot be broken, one that I have affirmed throughout my career, and one that I intend to not only continue but actually strengthen in an Obama administration," Obama said on arriving in Israel, according to accounts by US media travelling with the campaign.
A Palestinian construction worker earlier Tuesday ploughed a bulldozer into traffic in central Jerusalem, near the King David Hotel where Obama is to stay while in Israel. The attack injured 16 people in an incident mirroring the recent attack in which three Israelis were killed in the city in early July.
Obama condemned the attack.
Republican rival John McCain used Obama's visit to highlight an remark by the Democrat to a Jewish lobbying group last month, in which he said Jerusalem should remain the undivided capital of Israel.
Obama has since backed down from the remark, calling it the result of poor phrasing, but the McCain campaign has pushed it as an example of the Illinois senator's inexperience on the foreign policy front.
"Barack Obama's various positions and unconvincing explanations cannot give Israelis or Americans much comfort about his ability to understand and explain, much less lead, on complicated diplomatic issues," McCain's foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann said in a statement.
Abdullah earlier stressed the importance of the US role in the Mideast peace process, and Obama told journalists if he is elected he will be active in talks between Israel and the Palestinians and that he endorses a two-state solution.