Created on: March 20, 2013
For the first time in five years and the first of his tenure as Commander in Chief, United States President Barack Obama visited Israel, one of the nation’s strongest allies. In an attempt to boost his image in the country, the president declared Wednesday that Israel is the “greatest friend” to the U.S.
After an arrival ceremony, where Obama made his remarks regarding the close bond the U.S. and Israel has, President Obama met with several Israeli leaders in Jerusalem. Later this week, the president is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he has a rocky relationship with.
Although it is a historic trip, many Israelis are infuriated over his arrival because it takes place days prior to Passover and, due to security protocols for his visit, it has caused most of Jerusalem to be shut down.
“The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend,” stated the president on the tarmac at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, according to the Associated Press. “Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril. [It’s] an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbours.”
Before he left for Jerusalem, President Obama depicted U.S. commitment to Israel by visiting a missile battery that is part of the nation’s Iron Dome defence from militant rocket attacks. The U.S. allocated millions of dollars to Israel in order to construct the system, reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Let me say as clearly as I can: The United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel,” the president added. “We stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land. For even as we are clear-eyed about the difficulty, we will never lose sight of the vision of an Israel at peace with its neighbours.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres thanked the president for visiting Israel and noted that without the country’s moral voice and leadership, the world would be a darker place, noted France24. Netanyahu also praised President Obama for paying a visit and his undying commitment.
“Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East," the prime minister said. "Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel's sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat."
The Daily Mail reports that it is expected that the meetings will focus primarily on Iran developing nuclear weapons, the ongoing crisis in Syria, the annual military aid of $3 billion and security in the Jewish state.
The U.S. leader will end his trip to the Middle East by making a 24-hour stop in Jordan, where he will highlight Jordan’s acceptance of more than 450,000 Syrian refugees. He is scheduled to speak with King Abdullah.
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