Obama praises U.S.-Israel ties


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is a "bond that is much more than a strategic alliance," President Obama said.

In his first statement to the Israeli public, delivered Tuesday evening in a video call to the Israeli Presidential Conference "Facing Tomorrow," the U.S. leader praised President Shimon Peres, saying that "His life stands as an extraordinary example of how courage and perseverance help shape the future, turning harrowing challenges into historic opportunities. In his lifetime he helped build and secure the State of Israel, he faced great threats and forged peace."

Obama challenged Israelis to look to the future.

"(W)e can choose to defer action to sustain a dangerous status quo, or we can meet the challenges of our time head-on," he said. "Like you, I believe that now is the time to act.

"All of us must accept our share of responsibility for progress. As we look to the future, consider what we can achieve if we move beyond our differences, if a secure Israel and independent Palestine are at peace, Arab states commit to genuine reconciliation."

Also Tuesday, Peres held a working meeting with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who is representing Obama at the Presidential Conference.

During the meeting, Rice told Peres that the United States will stand by Israel in the fight against the Goldstone report, according to a statement issued from the president’s office.

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