PM Olmert to Cabinet (13 Jan): "President Bush reiterated the US’s absolute commitment that no agreement between us and the Palestinians can be carried out on the ground before the Roadmap is implemented in full, including all of its commitments regarding the security of the State of Israel both in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria. There is no separation between the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria regarding the Palestinians’ commitments."
Greetings by Israel President Shimon Peres
We welcome you to Israel with the words of prophet Isaiah:
מַה-נָּאווּ עַל-הֶהָרִים רַגְלֵי מְבַשֵּׂר, מַשְׁמִיעַ שָׁלוֹם מְבַשֵּׂר טוֹב -מַשְׁמִיעַ יְשׁוּעָה
"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brigeth good tiding;
That publishes peace;
That bringeth good tidings of food;
That publisheth salvation."
We greet you as a great friend. You towered at moments of need; you paved the road to peace.
We embrace you as the leader of a great nation, which, once having secured its freedom, never tired of providing it to others.
We take your advice to not underestimate the Iranian threat. Iran should not underestimate our resolve for self defense.
Your visit is on the eve of the sixth decade of our historic re-birth.
We were attacked seven times. We never lost a war. We never lost desire for peace. We never postponed a moment of democracy.
The United States supported us in war and peace. I can say wholeheartedly: "Thank you Mr. President."
Your speech of February 2002 introduced consensus when you said: "My vision is of two states living side by side in peace and security." Then it seemed remote. Now it is the basis for negotiations.
Peace can move forward on three tracks:
Political – creating a frame of two states;
Economic – raising quality of life across borders;
Security – stopping the madness of Iran, Hizbullah, and Hamas.
On your way here you said that 2008 should be the path-way from words to action, from aspiration to reality. Indeed, the next twelve months will be a moment of truth. It must not yield just words. The days ahead are fateful: If time is not utilized for peace-making, destructive armament, belligerence, and terror will capture center stage.
Wars are never too late, peace is never too early. We have no right to miss this opportunity.
Welcome to the gates of Jerusalem!
Greetings by Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
It is an honor and a privilege for me to welcome President George W. Bush on his first official visit to Israel as President of the United States.
The bond between the State of Israel and the United States of America is unshakable. It is based on the most fundamental common ideals of freedom and democracy and on a deep and long-standing friendship.
From the very beginning, your policies have reflected a basic understanding of the challenges facing Israel in this troubled region and a solid commitment to our national security.
You are our strongest and most trusted ally in the battle against terrorism and fundamentalism and a staunch supporter of our quest for peace and stability.
Through your vision, exceptional courage and determination in the face of evil and terror, your solidarity with the people of Israel has won you the love and admiration of all the citizens of Israel, and we all feel privileged to have you here with us.
Moreover, since I took office two years ago you have become my personal friend and confidant.
I hope, Mr. President, that your visit to the Holy Land will be meaningful and memorable, and on a more personal note,
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to finally reciprocate the generous hospitality which you have shown me on my visits to Washington.
Welcome to Israel.
Greetings by US President George W. Bush
President Peres and Prime Minister Olmert, I thank you for your warm welcome. You know, it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been in Israel. I’ve really been looking forward to coming back. Truth of the matter is, when I was here last time, I really didn’t think I’d be coming back as President of the United States. But I knew I’d come back, because Israel is a special place. And it’s a great honor to make my first visit as the President of the United States. Thank you all for coming out to welcome me.
My one regret is that my wife isn’t traveling today. Laura is back home in Washington, but she sends her very best regards to both of you all and to the people of Israel.
The United States and Israel are strong allies. The source of that strength is a shared belief in the power of human freedom. Our people have built two great democracies under difficult circumstances. We built free economies to unleash the potential of our people. And the alliance between our two nations helps guarantee Israel’s security as a Jewish state.
Each of our nations must guard against terror. We must firmly resist those who murder the innocent to achieve their political objectives. We must recognize that the great ideology based upon liberty is hopeful. Working the lines here, one of the religious leaders said, remember, Mr. President, justice and love. Justice and love is based upon a society that welcomes human rights and human dignity, a society which recognizes the universality of freedom. And that’s what we stand for today. We will do more than defend ourselves. We seek lasting peace. We see a new opportunity for peace here in the Holy Land, and for freedom across the region.
I look forward to my meetings with President Peres and Prime Minister Olmert. We will discuss our deep desire for security, for freedom, and for peace throughout the Middle East. I want to thank the people of Israel for their friendship and hospitality, and I appreciate the opportunity to visit your beautiful country once again. God bless.
US President Bush with Israel President Shimon Peres (Photo: Avi Ohayon/ GPO)