The nagging sense of rising tensions can be heard in the form of gunfire a short drive from Ramallah in an industrial area tucked between Israeli settlements.
Up one dusty road, the Caliber 3 security training academy is tucked into the hillside.
Inside, there are several ranges where students fire live ammunition, as well as indoor gymnasium space for hand-to-hand combat training. Among the students as we visited: residents of a local Israeli settlement who are part of its security structure, and a half dozen men being trained for anti-terrorism patrols on the light rail system that runs through Jerusalem.
The academy is run by Sharon Gat, a colonel in the Israeli reserves, who says beyond teaching students good marksmanship, he has to disabuse them of any complacency.
"Our enemies are very motivated to do attacks on us in the cities and in the settlements, wherever there are Jews," Gat told us. "We are not waiting for the suicide bomber to come. We want to be prepared."
Conversations at Caliber 3 and in two of the nearby settlements eerily mirror those we had in Ramallah and Gaza: a nagging sense from people who have lived here a long time that tensions are building toward more violence.
"The security guards are preparing for attacks, and not for attacks from the Gaza Strip," Gat said.
Laying the groundwork for progress later
While not carrying a dramatic new peace plan, White House officials say Obama hopes his conversation on this trip begins to lay the groundwork for progress not too far down the road.
Given the mistrust, scholar Telhami said he worries about potential violence and a frustrated Palestinian political leadership.
"They want something concrete," Telhami said. "They need a game-changer. They need a paradigm-changer. The president is not going to offer that on this trip."
Instead, Telhami said, as long as there is follow-through, he could understand the president's longer-term horizon.
"I think that's the way they have to approach it -- looking ahead, not just looking at what you are going to get out of this trip per se," Telhami said.
But Gat says he sees no hope for a major breakthrough, in the short or longer term.
"I remember my mother said, 'I hope you don't have to go through the army.' I told her always, since I was a child, I told her I don't think that will true. And I'm not telling that to my kids. I'm telling them, 'Listen guys: these are the facts -- You live in Israel. You probably will have to go in the army.' "