The White House announced last week that President Obama will make his inaugural visit to Israel as commander in chief, which would make him the fifth to do so while in office.
Richard Nixon was the first American president to visit Israel in 1974, arriving the day after announcing the resumption of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Syria following the 1967 Six Day War.
Jimmy Carter visited in 1979 and helped broker a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that was signed two weeks later. The day the treaty was signed, Carter’s visit ended on a humorous note:
WASHINGTON, Mar. 26 (JTA) – Israeli Premier Menachem Begin presented President Carter today with a photo album of the President’s recent visit to Jerusalem. The Premier accidentally dropped the cover of the box holding the al bum on Carter’s foot but the mishap was greeted with jokes and added to the happy atmosphere because of the peace treaty signing ceremony later in the day. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan pointed to the clear blue skies outside after yesterday rain and told Carter, "I knew you could arrange everything."
Clinton made four visits to Israel, twice in his first term, once in 1994 and again for a 22-hour stay in 1996 — the last year of his first term in office — following an anti-terrorism summit in Egypt. Clinton also eulogized Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. (Carter also attended the funeral, as did George H.W. Bush, who did not visit Israel while in office.) In 1998, Clinton returned to Israel, and also became the first American president to visit Palestinian self-rule areas.