Obama: Bond with Israel 'unshakable'

President congratulates Israel on Independence Day, says he anticipates strengthening relationship.

obama netanyahu 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
obama netanyahu 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The US bond with Israel is "as unshakable as ever" as both nations pursue peace, President Barack Obama said on the state's 61st birthday. "On behalf of the people of the United States, President Obama congratulates the people and government of Israel on the 61st anniversary of Israel's independence," the White House said in a statement on Tuesday. "The United States was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, minutes after its declaration of independence, and the deep bonds of friendship between the US and Israel remain as strong and unshakable as ever. "The president looks forward to working with Israel to advance our common interests, including the realization of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, ensuring Israel's security, and strengthening the bilateral relationship, over the months and years to come," the statement continued. President Shimon Peres will meet with Obama on Monday while in Washington to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, the Israeli Embassy announced on Tuesday. Peres will be the first Israeli leader to be hosted by the new president, since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pushed back his inaugural visit to Washington until mid-May. Issues that Peres intends to discuss with Obama include advancement of the peace process, the Saudi initiative and the Iranian nuclear threat. It is not certain that Peres and Obama will find common ground on how to deal with Hamas. The Prime Minister's Office, which is coordinating the trip with Peres, has said Netanyahu needs more time to complete a policy review before traveling to the US. The president's visit will come on the heels of Obama's reception of King Abdullah of Jordan last week and amid outstanding White House invitations to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Peres will address the AIPAC Policy Conference during his stay, after which he will travel to New York for meetings with other Jewish groups.