WASHINGTON -- US President Barack Obama is sent his "warmest wishes" to the Israeli people as Israel celebrate 66 years of independence, pledging to work with Israel "to support a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict" with the Palestinian people.

Such a solution, Obama said, must ensure "that the Israelis will live alongside their neighbors in peace and with security."

The American president's Yom Ha'atzmaut message referred to Israel as a "diverse and vibrant democracy," and as a "start-up nation."

"Generations of Jews dreamed of the day when the Jewish people would have their own state in their historic homeland," Obama said, "and 66 years ago today that dream came true."

Obama noted that the US was the first nation to recognize the government of Israel in 1948. 

"Today we are still the first to come to Israel’s defense," he continued. "The enduring relationship between our two nations, based on shared democratic values and our unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, has never been stronger."

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