Shimon Peres praised the election of Barack Obama as an opportunity to end the "world crisis" and as an "end of racism."
"It was an American election and a worldwide choice," the Israeli president said in a statement praising the Democrat for winning the presidency Tuesday. "I don’t recall any other election that practically all of humanity was following with hope and concern. I want to congratulate the newly elected President: young, fresh, promising, representing a change and introducing change. The changes that I can mention – it is an opportunity to escape the present world crisis and enter into a new era of cooperation, of productive economy and of human solidarity.
"In a way, it is an end of racism. There is no longer any way that any white man can claim superiority, nor any black person feel discrimination. We are the same people, and this election is a great statement to that effect."
Peres also praised Obama’s Republican rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and revealed advice he had given Obama when he met him over the summer.
"When President Obama was here, he asked me what he can do for Israel," Peres said. "My answer was: be a great President of the United States of America. If you will be a great President of the United States of America, you will have great promise for Israel as well, and for all of the region and for all of our neighbors. Nobody should look at whose side the President is on – he just has to be on the side of peace."
Peres, an amateur poet, attached to the statement the full text of a letter he had written to Obama:
"Dear Mr. President,
The world needs a great leader.
It is in your making.
It is in our prayers.
God bless you."
Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, also welcomed Obama’s election, noting his tour of a town besieged until recently by terrorists based in the Gaza Strip.
"During Barack Obama’s recent visit to Israel, and especially during the tour we conducted together in the city of Sderot, the people of Israel were impressed by his commitment to the peace and security of Israel," she said in a statement.
President-elect Obama has proven his leadership and talents to the whole world, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a congratulatory statement.
“The special Israel-US relationship is based on shared values and interests and is characterized by ties of close cooperation. Israel and the U.S. have a common desire to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. We have no doubt that the special relations that prevail between the two countries will continue to strengthen during the Obama administration.”