Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama upon his inauguration, saying he expects Israeli-American relations to become even stronger.
“We wish the incoming President success in his office and are certain that we will be full partners in advancing peace and stability in the Middle East,” Olmert said in a statement. “The greatest democracy in the world has again proven that it is a beacon and example for many countries,” he said. “The entire State of Israel rejoices with the United States and welcomes President Obama.”
The prime minister also thanked outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush for his friendship with Israel over the course of his terms in office.
“The United States, including both parties, has been a true and strong friend of the State of Israel over the years, especially during former President Bush’s term of office,” Olmert said.
“I am convinced that the United States’ deep and abiding ties with Israel will strengthen further,” he added. “The values of democracy, brotherhood and freedom that constitute the building blocks of American society are also shared by Israeli society, together with the faith in man’s power and ability to change and influence his surroundings.”
Hours before Obama’s inauguration on Tuesday, President Shimon Peres heralded the swearing in of America’s first black president as a great day for the whole of humanity.
“Today is a great day not only for the United States of America, but for the entire world. Obama was elected by the United States, but as a matter of fact, he was chosen by the whole of humankind,” said Peres in a statement released by his office.
Obama, 47, the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, took his Oath of Office midday Tuesday on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Peres also branded Obama’s assumption of the presidency as the correction of “one of the greatest mistakes in the annals of history,” in a reference to slavery.
Touching on claims that the new president would be less accommodating toward Israel than his predecessor, Bush, Peres asserted that, “I am sure that Israel will be a good partner to President Obama.
“They say Obama will be a good president to Israel, and I say Israel will be a good country for the President, because his goals are our goals, his hopes are our hopes, his source is our source,” he said.