TEL AVIV -- Across Israel, news stations aired a live broadcast of President Barack Obama's last day in the Jewish state with a headline summarizing his visit: "U.S. President wins our hearts and minds."

Hyperbole aside, Obama did appear to succeed at laying the groundwork to turn around his image in the country from aloof to friend. Over three busy days, he did it in a deliberate and stage-managed effort.

It ranged from the symbolic -- repeated bows to Israel's Jewish history -- to the substantive: a shift of tone toward Israel on a key issue with the Palestinians. Obama urged Palestinians to stop demanding a halt to Israeli settlement construction as a precondition for peace talks.

Capping it off, he helped engineer a phone call between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday that offered a first step toward re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries, a major development for an increasingly isolated Israel.

The call, from an airport trailer Friday just as Obama was about to leave Israel, came nearly three years after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla left nine Turks dead. With Obama standing by, Netanyahu apologized for the incident and admitted there had been "operational failures."

The two countries agreed to begin normalizing relations in a move that could help coordinate a regional response to the spillover from Syria's civil war. Obama said later in Jordan that he'd been working on the two leaders for two years.

"Now Israel knows it has a friend in the White House," said Udi Segel, an Israeli diplomatic analyst for Channel 2 Hebrew News. "For any critics that were saying that Obama's visit was all hugs and smiles and empty words, the phone call showed otherwise."

The visit was Obama's first as president, and he poured on the charm with the Israeli people, who previously had given him poor marks in polls, and with Netanyahu, with whom he'd had a prickly relationship.

The charm offensive to Israel came with a price, though.

For every friend Obama appeared to gain among Jewish Israelis, he appeared to lose one among Palestinians, especially in the West Bank, where activists and officials complained the president treated them as an afterthought. While he delivered a speech to the Israeli people in Jerusalem, for example, he did not speak to the public in the West Bank.

"The disappointment with Obama cuts even deeper because at first we were so optimistic that his message of hope and change would apply for us, too," said Asmi Hakan, 32, a store owner in downtown Ramallah. "We celebrated Obama as a man who would finally get us our own state, and now we see he's never going to do that. I would say he's exactly like Bush, but I think he might be even worse."

From an Israeli perspective, said Zvi Rafiah, a former Israeli diplomat to the United States, "this was a successful visit, the most successful visit a U.S. president could have. For those people in Israel who didn't like him before, this was a visit to prove that they had been wrong, and that Obama is, first and foremost, a friend to Israel."

Obama, who spoke extensively about Israel's right to defend itself and the security needs of the Jewish state, made sure that he was photographed in some of Jerusalem's most important sites Friday, including the Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem, and the Israel national cemetery, where he laid stones at the graves of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish gunman opposed to his peace moves.

"It might be a little cheesy, but that kind of stuff is really important to Israelis," said Sam Mitzner, 32, an American immigrant. "I never voted for him -- mostly because I bought the argument that he was not pro-Israel -- but I was really impressed with him on this trip. I would go so far as to say that I regret not voting for him."

Not all the students who attended Obama's speech in Jerusalem were won over.

Obama was interrupted by a heckler who yelled out, "Do you really come here for peace, or to give Israel more weapons to kill and destroy the Palestinian people?"

Saher Jamhour, 19, a student from Qassim College in northern Israel, said that as a non-Jewish resident of Israel, she felt ignored by Obama.

"We are angry, and we should be angry. He came here but didn't say anything about us. We were invisible to him," she said.

Obama headed back to Washington last night after concluding his trip with a sightseeing visit to Jordan's fabled ancient city of Petra.

With AP

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