The Secretary of State has an excellent familiarity with the State of Israel and the entire Middle East, one which goes back many years.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: Good evening. I welcome the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton, on her first visit to Israel in her new position.

The Secretary of State has an excellent familiarity with the State of Israel and the entire Middle East, one which goes back many years, and I am certain that she will know how to utilize all the experience and knowledge she acquired through the years as a leading Senator in order to represent the United States’ interests and those of the entire free world, and to advance stability and quiet in the region – because this is a goal we all share.

The friendship between the United States and Israel is close and long lived. Throughout my entire tenure, our two countries nurtured and strengthened this friendship. I am certain that President Obama, and the Secretary of State, will work in cooperation with any Israeli government, and will remain committed to the well-being and security of Israel as a Jewish state.

I expect that our discussion will undoubtedly deal with the bilateral relations between our countries, as well as regional issues. The Secretary of State has arrived here at the Prime Minister’s Residence after a day of discussions with the President of the State of Israel and with my colleagues, and I am certain that she heard about our concerns and hopes from all of them.

I will share our increasing concern about the Iranian threat with her. The position of Israel, as I have already outlined, is that Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran, and I heard President Obama and the Secretary of State that they resolutely object to a nuclear Iran. We will discuss ways in which we can ensure this.

With regard to our hopes, I will share with the Secretary of State the position my Government has taken to advance peace between us and the Palestinians, and together we will discuss ways to advance peace in the region as part of the two-state solution. This is the only solution – there is no doubt – and it reflects absolutely Israel’s supreme strategic interest as well as the interest of the Palestinian people.

I will update the Secretary of State with regard to the peace negotiations we conducted with Syria through the Turkish mediation, and together we will discuss ways in which we can extricate as many countries in the region from extremism in order to weaken the strength and influence of those countries which support terror and of terrorist organizations in the region. I will certainly update her with regard to the situation in southern Israel and about our intention to continue defending ourselves from any terrorist aggressions on the part of the Hamas and other terrorist organizations, which, unfortunately, rules in the Gaza Strip. In fact, they continue almost on a daily basis to shoot at innocent Israelis living in the southern part of Israel, and this is of course something that is totally unacceptable and intolerable to us and to everyone who lives in the State of Israel.

Madam Secretary of State,

I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with you in your new position – your courage, your commitment, your international experience and the brave friendship you have demonstrated for the State of Israel throughout the years will certainly find expression in your new role and assist in your success. I am totally convinced that you will continue to advance and strengthen the relations between Israel and with the greatest friend we have in the whole world – the United States of America. Welcome

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: Thank you very much, Prime Minister, and it is indeed a personal delight for me to be here this evening.  I thank you for the generous offer of hospitality.  As you pointed out when I came in, I have been to this home before, and it always reminds me of many years of friendship and people whose lives have intersected with mine.  I am grateful for this opportunity to return as my country’s Secretary of State, on behalf of President Obama, and to have the opportunity you just briefly outlined to discuss the range of issues that are of concern to Israel and the United States.

I’ve had a wonderful day.  As the Prime Minister pointed out, it started with an old friend, Shimon Peres.  Then I was honored to go to Yad Vashem to see some of the new parts of the museum and memorial, and to pay tribute there to the six million lives lost in the Holocaust and to lay a wreath and pay respect to the eternal flame.

The United States and Israel face a number of serious challenges, and it was important for me to be here and to be with my delegation, including Middle East Envoy, Senator Mitchell, who’s been here before and will be back numerous times in the future; to engage in in-depth discussions with Israel’s leaders on these matters of grave mutual concern.

But I also enjoyed the opportunity to have a discussion with a group of women entrepreneurs just a short while ago at the hotel, who are being featured in a little video made for a contest that the United States State Department is running, seeking interesting projects around the world.  There were so many hundreds of them submitted, and this project from Israel which discusses a supportive community that helps women become entrepreneurs, particularly immigrant women – women from the former Soviet Union, women from Ethiopia and elsewhere.

Because as we discuss the critical issues of our time, it’s also important to remember why we do this – and it is to provide the people who both the Prime Minister and I are privileged to represent with a chance to fulfill their own dreams, to live lives in safety and security, and to be given the opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential.

So when we sometimes discuss these serious matters of terrorism and extremism, of the threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, we can’t disconnect it from what we are attempting to do, to make sure that the people of Israel have a chance to live and flourish in a safe and secure environment, and as the Prime Minister said, to seek a way that they can live next to their Palestinian neighbors in a safe and secure environment.

So I am very grateful, once again, to be here in Israel and pledging not only my personal commitment, but that of my country, to the fundamental and unshakable bond that joins us to Israel’s security and to our enduring bonds of friendship.

Thank you so much Prime Minister.