On the second day of his visit to the Middle East, President Barack Obama traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, after a morning viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum. Around 150 demonstrators chanted anti-American slogans, saying they wanted weapons not presidential visits.

In his statement, Obama said settlements are not constructive and reasserted the U.S. commitment to realizing two states. "We seek an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel so that the two sides enjoy prosperity and peace. The only way to achieve this goal is via direct negotiations."

Two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in the southern Israeli town of Sderot early Thursday, as U.S. President Barack Obama was beginning the second day of his first visit to the country as president. The rockets exploded near the border with the Gaza Strip, causing damage to one house. No casualties were reported.

Two Hebrew University students won tickets to Obama's highly anticipated speech in Jerusalem Thursday evening with a homemade music video asking the president to "Invite, us maybe?" sung to the tune of the Carly Rae Jepsen hit "Call Me Maybe."

In the rush to fill 400 positions on boards of directors at government companies, Ethiopian Israelis want to be considered too. They expect Prime Minister Netanyahu to keep his promise to set up a program to further employment opportunities for their community, which is among the poorest in the country.

Syrian rebels have overrun several towns near the Israeli Golan Heights in the past 24 hours, rebels and a monitoring group said on Thursday, fueling tensions in the sensitive military zone.

El Al Israel Airlines reported losses of $26.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a loss of $7.8 million in the parallel period last year

Poised between the Iranian hammer and the Turkish anvil, Iraq in 2013 is a land of contrasts 10 years after the U.S.-led invasion.