Pres. Peres, Pres. Obama, PM Netanyahu
Pres. Peres, Pres. Obama, PM Netanyahu Reuters

PM Binyamin Netanyahu offered firm thanks Wednesday in welcoming remarks to U.S. President Barack Obama when he arrived on Air Force One for his first visit to Israel since entering the White House more than five years ago.

Netanyahu responded to Obama’s strong declaration of “unshakeable” support with an equally firm vote of thanks and appreciation in his own welcoming remarks for the American government’s willingness to foot the bill as Israel defends itself from rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza and Hizbullah terrorists in the south and north.

Obama will be in the country for a three-day visit which will include a trip to Ramallah to visit Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials, as well as a trip to the PA-controlled Judean city of Bethlehem in a gesture of support for the dwindling and much-harassed Christian community there.

“Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat. Thank you for enhancing Israel’s’ ability to exercise that right through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense programs, and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation.

“Thank you, Mr. President, for upholding the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state in our historic homeland, and for boldly defending that right at the United Nations. And thank you for strengthening the unbreakable alliance between our two nations during your Presidency.

“In an unstable and uncertain Middle East, the need for our alliance is greater than ever. It is the key to thwarting dangers and advancing peace; it's the key to achieve a stable and secure peace that the people of Israel yearn for with our neighbors with our all hearts.  We seek a peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I look forward to working with you over the next four years to make the alliance between our two countries even stronger.

Mr. President, on this historic visit, you will have an opportunity to see a different side of Israel. You will see past, present, and future in this tiny land which has left such a huge imprint on the course of civilization. You will see the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, the world's oldest text of the Bible, written in Hebrew here 2,000 years ago, scrolls that bear witness to the timeless bond between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

“You will meet the young men and women of Israel who make it one of the most creative and dynamic societies on earth. And you will see Israeli technology and innovation which is fundamentally transforming the way we live.

 Mr. President -- Barack – on a lighter side, I had an opportunity to see your interview on Israeli television the other day.  I took note of your desire to go incognito, so if you have a few free minutes, and you can arrange to slip away from your security – a daunting task – well, we picked out a few cafes and bars in Tel Aviv, as we even prepared a fake mustache for you.

Mr. President,

The people of Israel are honored to have you visit our country.  We warmly welcome you as a cherished guest. We deeply appreciate your friendship. And we share your hope that the Middle East will enjoy a future of freedom, prosperity and peace.

Mr. President, Baruch HaBa L'Yisrael: welcome to Israel."