President Obama has landed in Israel this morning, marking the first time he visits the country as president.
“I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond 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,” Obama said during a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv airport.
NPR’s Larry Abramson, who’s at the airport, just spoke to our Newscast unit. He said Obama was welcomed by Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Those leaders reaffirmed the “unbreakable alliance” between the countries, Larry said. “President Obama talked about the similarities between these two countries, how they both came from immigrants who wanted to be free who wanted to set up an independent democracy and to fight in order to do that.”
Obama is now on his way to tour Israel’s Iron Dome, its missile defense system, which the United States has helped fund. Later today, he’ll head to Jerusalem and tomorrow, he’ll cross into the Ramallah in the West Bank.
The New York Times reports that Obama does not arrive in the region with grand plans to revive stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
“Rather, he is seeking to make a connection with the Israeli people, many of whom view him with a jaundiced eye after four years in which he sparred with Mr. Netanyahu over issues like Iran and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank,” the Times reports.
The highlight of the trip will be a speech Obama will deliver at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
The Washington Post reports the president is expected to reassure Israel of the United States’ commitment to its security as Israel “seeks to counter threats from Iran and protect its people in the midst of civil war in neighboring Syria.”