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The American President said he made Israel the first overseas stop of his second term because wants to reaffirm the U.S. ties with Israel.
U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Israel on Wednesday as concerns about Iran’s nuclear progress percolate, CNN reports. On arrival, he told the Israeli people that the “United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.” The trip, his first to the country as president, is part of his sweep across the Middle East, which will include visits to the West Bank and Jordan.In a brief address to dignitaries at the airport, Obama said he made Israel the first overseas stop of his second term because wants to reaffirm the U.S. ties with Israel. ??”Across this region, the winds of change bring both promise and peril,” he said. “So I see this visit as an opportunity, to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to re-state America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.”Prime Minister Netanyahu said he had one primary message for Obama and the American people, The Voice of America reports.
“Thank you,” he said. “Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East. Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
Iron Dome visit
At the airport, Obama inspected a missile battery and other equipment that is part of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, financed with the help of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance. Israel used the Iron Dome to shoot down rockets fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip during an eight-day conflict last November. Both leaders have cited the Iron Dome as an example of “unprecedented” security cooperation between their nations Barack Obama then flew by helicopter to Jerusalem where he and Netanyahu and Peres held talks on stalled Israel-Palestinian peace efforts, Syria, and Iran’s nuclear program. Obama is set to travel to the West Bank today to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. President Obama is also scheduled to visit a set of cultural and religious sites in the region, including seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum and a stop at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.Many Palestinians have said they are disappointed with Obama, and see little reason for optimism in his second term.
There were scattered protests in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday ahead of Obama’s arrival. Tomorrow, his schedule includes talks with King Abdullah in Jordan, where the United States has been helping authorities to cope with a flood of refugees from the Syrian civil war.
The israeli-palestinian dispute
White House officials say Obama is not carrying a new peace initiative and is hardly optimistic there is solid ground to try to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Most of all, the president’s aides say, he wants to assess how prepared – if at all — Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas are to return to negotiations. Palestinians want Obama to prove there are consequences if his call for an Israeli settlement freeze is again ignored – as it is currently ignored with construction of subdivisions. And their grievances are evident in more personal ways: Posters on Ramallah streets sarcastically advise Obama not to bring his smartphone because Israel does not allow 3G or better service in the Palestinian territories.