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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 14:06 GMT
Massive disruption for Bush visit
By Martin Patience
BBC News, Jerusalem

Jerusalem street
Jerusalem's irritable drivers face another challenge this week
More than 10,000 police, 1,500 flags, 237 hotel rooms - and one US president.

These are just some of the preparations that Israeli authorities and US officials have made for George W Bush's arrival in Jerusalem on his first presidential visit.

The US president has begun a three-day trip to Israel and the West Bank during which he is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

US officials say that Mr Bush's visit is intended to help push forward the Annapolis process - the new US-sponsored initiative designed to end the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Panoramic view

For the Israeli authorities, Mr Bush's arrival has meant the biggest security operation - dubbed Operation Clear Skies - since Pope John Paul II's visit in 2000.

Police have closed 20 roads close to the King David hotel where President Bush is staying. A white observation balloon bristling with cameras floats above the building.

Israeli police in Jerusalem
Thousands of extra police are being deployed to protect Mr Bush
Jerusalem residents - notoriously impatient drivers - will need to take alternative routes or leave their vehicles at home for the next three days.

The city municipality has also distributed 13,000 leaflets to residents living close to Mr Bush's convoy routes, asking that they carry their national identity cards for possible inspection.

Mr Bush is occupying the King David's Royal Suite, which boasts a 180-degree view of Jerusalem's Old City.

But due to security considerations, Mr Bush is not expected to visit the historic heart of the city, where a majority of residents are Palestinians.

Police are also wary of Israeli right-wing supporters angry about any possible concessions that Mr Bush may ask the Israeli prime minister to make over Jerusalem and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Several demonstrations are planned during Mr Bush's visit.

Sniper fear

On Tuesday night a group of activists were arrested after hanging posters depicting Mr Bush, Mr Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres wearing Arab head-dresses in the style of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Rightwing Israeli activists
Pictures of a trio of "Arafats" was enough to merit arrest for some
The posters labelled the three leaders as "accomplices to terror", over the image of the US flag.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian security officials are preparing for Mr Bush's visit on Thursday. The US president is expected to arrive in the city by helicopter.

Roads are closed and the Voice of Palestine, the radio station run by the Palestinian Authority, warned Ramallah residents not to stand on their roofs as they may be targeted by Palestinian or American snipers.

The presidential compound, the Muqataa, has also been spruced up with a fresh lick of paint.

Both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority are rolling out the deluxe red carpet for Mr Bush.

But many ordinary Israelis and Palestinians will be glad when Mr Bush leaves on Friday - and the roads are reopened.

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