President Obama,

This is an historic moment.

You have chosen to come to Israel as the first foreign visit of your second term. You, the leader of the United States, the world’s greatest democracy, have chosen to come to our somewhat smaller but no less vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East, the one and only Jewish State of Israel.

On behalf of the government and the people of Israel, I come here today with a simple message for you and the American people: Thank you. Thank you for standing by Israel at this time of historic change in the Middle East.

Thank you for unequivocally affirming Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself by itself against any threat. Thank you for enhancing Israel’s’ ability to exercise that right through generous military assistance, revolutionary missile defense programs, and unprecedented security and intelligence cooperation.

Thank you, Mr. President, for upholding the Jewish people’s right to a Jewish state in our historic homeland, and for boldly defending that right at the United Nations. And thank you for strengthening the unbreakable alliance between our two nations during your presidency.

In an unstable and uncertain Middle East, the need for our alliance is greater than ever. It is the key to thwarting dangers and advancing peace; it’s the key to achieve a stable and secure peace that the people of Israel yearn for all our neighbors and with all our hearts. We seek a peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I look forward to working with you over the next four years to make the alliance between our two countries even stronger.

Mr. President, on this historic visit, you will have an opportunity to see a different side of Israel. You will see past, present, and future in this tiny land which has left such a huge imprint on the course of civilization. You will see the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls, the world’s oldest text of the Bible, written in Hebrew here 2,000 years ago, scrolls that bear witness to the timeless bond between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

You will meet the young men and women of Israel who make it one of the most creative and dynamic societies on earth. And you will see Israeli technology and innovation which are fundamentally transforming the way we live.

Mr. President, Barack – on a lighter side, I had an opportunity to see your interview on Israeli television the other day. I took note of your desire to go incognito around Israel, so if you have a few free minutes, and you can arrange to slip away from your security — a daunting task — well, we picked out a few cafes and bars in Tel Aviv, and we even prepared a fake mustache for you.

Mr. President,

The people of Israel are honored to have you visit our country. We warmly welcome you as our cherished guest. We deeply appreciate your friendship. And we share your hope that the Middle East will enjoy a future of freedom, prosperity and peace.

Mr. President, Baruch HaBa L’Yisrael – welcome to Israel.