PRESIDENT PERES: President Obama, it is a great privilege
for me and for the people of Israel to host you here in Jerusalem.
It was a real pleasure to sit with a true friend - very knowledgeable,
fortunately - and sit candidly and discuss issues openly and freely.
After the meeting we just had, I have all confidence that your vision can
transform the Middle East. Your vision is achievable. You arrived here already
with an impressive record of answering our needs, particularly - and
unforgettably - in the domain of security. I want to thank you personally, dear
friend, for the long days and for many long, sleepless nights - you know about
them - which you spend caring for our country and for our future.
We live in an age that is both global and domestic, inseparably. Interest may
divide people; vision may unite them. There is common vision uniting us to
confront the dangers, to bring peace closer as soon as possible. The greatest
danger is a nuclear Iran - so you said, so you do. We trust your policy, which
calls to, first, by non-military - to fight by non-military means with a clear
statement that other options remain on the table. You made it clear that your
intention is not to contain but to prevent.
We are trying together to start negotiations with the Palestinians. We
already agreed that the goal is a two states for the two people solution. There
is no better one, or more achievable one. We consider that the President of the
Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, is our partner in that effort to stop terror
and bring peace.
Hamas remains a terror organization that targets innocent people. On our
northern border, Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, continues to stockpile arms and
threaten our civilians while they target innocent people across the world.
Hezbollah is destroying Lebanon and supporting the brutal massacre of the Syrian
people by President Assad. Fortunately, the Syrian nuclear capacity was
destroyed. But unfortunately, thousands of chemical weapons remain. We cannot
allow those weapons to fall in the terrorists’ hands. It could lead to an epic
There is an attempt to bring spring to the Arab world. It is an Arab choice.
It is an Arab initiative. It may bring peace to the region, freedom to the
people, economic growth to the Arab states. If realized, it can lead to a better
tomorrow. We pray it will become a reality.
I really believe the vision is within skeptics and those who believe in
peace. Your voice will encourage belief. You came to us with a clear message
that no one should let skepticism win the day - a vision that states clearly
that peace is not only a wish, but a possibility. I fully support your call.
There is no other way to make the future better. There is no better leader to
make it possible.
Your visit is a historic step in that direction. We shall journey with you
all the way. Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much.
Well, thank you, President Peres, for your very generous words and your warm
welcome. It is wonderful to be here once again. I first visited you when I was
still a senator and had the opportunity to visit the lovely garden, and for me
to be able to bring a tree from the United States that will find a home in that
garden I think is symbolic of not only the friendship between our two nations,
but between the two of us personally.
Mr. President, you once remarked that a prime minister’s job is to rule, a
president’s job is to charm. Well, as with all our visits together, I have once
again succumbed to your charms and I'm grateful to your hospitality.
It is wonderful to be back in Jerusalem, the Eternal City. And I’m pleased to
begin my visit with a son of Israel who’s devoted his life to keeping Israel
strong and sustaining the bonds between our two nations. President Peres knows
that this is a work of generations. Just as he joined the struggle for Israeli
independence in his early 20s, he’s always looking ahead, connecting with young
people. And I’m especially grateful for the time he allowed me to share with
those extraordinary Israeli boys and girls.
Their dreams are much the same as children everywhere. In another sense,
though, their lives reflect the difficult realities that Israelis face every
single day. They want to be safe. They want to be free from rockets that hit
their homes or their schools. They want a world where science and technology is
created to build and not destroy. They want to live in peace, free from terror
and threats that are so often directed at the Israeli people. That’s the future
that they deserve. That’s the vision that is shared by both our nations. And
that is Shimon Peres's life work.
And, Mr. President, Michelle and I have such fond memories of your visit to
the White House last spring, when I was honored to present you with America's
highest civilian honor - our Medal of Freedom. And that medal was a tribute to
your extraordinary life, in which you have held virtually every position in the
So today was another opportunity for me to benefit from the President’s
perspective on a whole range of topics - from the historic changes that are
taking place across the region to the perils of a nuclear-armed Iran, to the
imperatives of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to the promise of our
And I should note that one of the advantages of talking to President Peres is
not only does he have astonishing vision, but he’s also a pretty
practical-minded politician and consistently has good advice in terms of how we
can approach many of these problems.
I reaffirmed to President Peres, as I will throughout my visit, that in this
work, the State of Israel will have no greater friend than the United States.
And the work we do in our time will make it more likely that the children that
we saw today alongside children from throughout the region have the opportunity
for security and peace and prosperity.
This obligation to future
generations I think was well symbolized by the tree planting that we started our
meeting with. The Talmud recounts the story of Honi, the miracle worker, who saw
a man planting a carob tree. And he asked the man, how long before this tree
yields fruit? To which the man responded, “Seventy years.” And so Honi asked,
“Are you sure you'll be alive in another 70 years to see it?” And the man
replied, “When I came into the world, I found carob trees. As my forefathers
planted for me, so will I plant for my children.”
President Peres I think understands that story well. And so we want to all
thank you for all the seeds you’ve planted - the seeds of progress, the seeds of
security, the seeds of peace - all the seeds that have helped not only Israel
grow but also the relationship between our two nations grow. And I believe that
if we tend to them, if we nurture them, they will yield fruit in every hill and
valley of this land, not only for the children we met today but for Israelis,
for Palestinians, for Arabs across the region. That's not only good for the
children of this region, but it’s good for my children and the children of
I deeply believe that. And I couldn't ask for a more wise or more thoughtful
partner in that process. I'm very grateful for you hospitality, and I look
forward to our continued work in the future.