For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 14, 2008
President Bush Arrives in Israel, Welcomed by President Peres and Prime Minister Olmert
Ben Gurion International Airport
Tel Aviv, Israel
In Focus: Middle East Trip
11:32 A.M. (Local)
PRESIDENT PERES: Our dear friend and President of the United States and Mrs. George Bush, first of all, mazel tov. Your joy is ours. Welcome to the new Israel, 3,000 years old and going on the 60th. We are grateful to you for gracing this occasion.
Mr. President, you have demonstrated toward us a Biblical attitude, which is very rare; a warm friendship; a determined dedication to the promotion of peace and security in the entire region. In those 60 years, we were able to demonstrate that though outnumbered and outgunned, a democracy could still win seven wars during this period. Furthermore, while fighting, we never postponed democracy even for a single day. And even though many times under attack, we never lost our desire for peace.
Miracles happen when dedicated people make them happen. Mr. President, you stood like nobody else on our side in sunny mornings and stormy weather. So thank you, Mr. President. Your presence here permits us something that we really wanted to do, and that is to celebrate a real thanksgiving party to the United States from the depth of our heart, expressing our thanks to you, to the greatest phenomena of freedom in history, the United States of America.
Welcome to Israel, Mr. President and Mrs. Bush.
PRIME MINISTER OLMERT: It's an honor and a privilege to welcome the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, and Mrs. Bush, in Israel for the second time this year. This is an historic year for the state of Israel, as we mark 60 years of independence. The ideals reflected in America's Declaration of Independence inspired Israel's founding fathers in their quest to shape the character of the state of Israel as a democratic country based on the principles of freedom, justice and equality.
Throughout the years, the strategic alliance with America has become one of the fundamental pillars of our national security. And the bond between our peoples has grown deeper and stronger with time. America has been there at each and every important crossroad in the life of our young country, and stood by us in times of hope and in moments of crisis.
Since assuming office almost eight years ago, President George Bush has been our closest ally and partner. Your decision to celebrate this historic milestone with us is an extraordinary gesture of friendship, and is further evidence of your unending commitment to the security and well being of our country.
I welcome you and Laura to Israel. I thank you for your friendship and decision to come and celebrate this important occasion with us.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Olmert, thank you very much for your warm welcome. It's good to be back again. We're proud to reaffirm the friendship of our peoples, and we're delighted to join you in celebrating the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel.
Our two nations both faced great challenges when they were founded, and our two nations have both relied on the same principles to help us succeed. We've built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an Almighty God. We've welcomed immigrants, who have helped us thrive. We've built prosperous economies by rewarding innovation and risk-taking and trade. And we've built an enduring alliance to confront terrorists and tyrants.
Americans and Israelis can be proud of our past, and the best way to honor our founders is to continue the work they started. Tomorrow I'm going to address the members of the Knesset and the people of Israel. I look forward to discussing how I believe our two nations can continue to advance our ideals and approach our next 60 years of partnership with confidence and with hope.
Laura and I appreciate your invitation, your kind invitation to share these days of celebration with you. We consider the Holy Land a very special place, and we consider the Israeli people our close friends.
END 11:37 A.M. (Local)