Obama on first Israel visit, says “Peace must come to Holy Land”

Barack Obama

The visit is the first of Mr. Obama’s second term.

The United States President, Barack Obama, has declared that “peace must come to the Holy Land” on his first presidential visit to Israel.

Mr. Obama spoke as he arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, that the friendship between the two nations is “eternal” and “unbreakable”.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama will travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Peace talks between Israel and Palestine, conflict in Syria, and Iran’s nuclear plans are expected to dominate talks.

The visit is the first foreign trip Mr. Obama is embarking on since he was sworn in for a second term in January.

The visit is aimed at mending a somewhat testy relationship with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and reassuring the Israelis that Mr. Obama is committed to their security, American media say.

Mr. Obama said he was visiting “the historic homeland of the Jewish people,” avoiding remarks that may directly give the impression he was biased against the Palestinians.

“Across this region the winds of change bring both promise and peril,” Mr. Obama said. “So I see this visit as 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 neighbors.”

Israeli President, Shimon Peres, praised Mr. Obama “for the way you are. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for the hopes you carry with you,” while Mr. Netanyahu thanked him for “standing with Israel.”

Mr. Obama visited Mr. Peres’ home where he donated a tree to the Israeli president’s garden. He is also expected to visit Mr. Netanyahu’s residence.

Earlier, he inspected a missile battery site partly funded by the U.S.

Security for the visit is tight, with thousands of Israeli and Palestinian security officers on duty in Jerusalem and in the West Bank city of Ramallah.


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