President Barack Obama has wrapped his first day in Israel on his first visit to the Jewish state as president. Here's a recap of how it went:
• Obama said the U.S. is "proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend."
Obama called the visit “an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations” and to “restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”
“The United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend,” Obama said at a welcoming ceremony in Tel Aviv Wednesday afternoon. “The United States of America stands with the state of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel. It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place.”
• Oops: The presidential limousine had an unfortunate mishap.
Despite all its high-tech gadgetry, communications onboard, and defensive armored plating, the White House limo, known as “The Beast” failed to start this morning shortly before President Barack Obama landed in Tel Aviv.
With such a heavy payload – a full eight tons – it’s no wonder its fuel efficiency is only eight miles a gallon. But that point was made moot when the driver apparently filled it with the wrong fuel.
• Obama planted a tree...and Israeli officials dug it up a few hours later.
[J]ust hours after Obama planted the tree, Agriculture Ministry officials began digging it up.
Obama brought the tree with him on Air Force One, so the tree – like all other imported agricultural products – has to undergo the requisite tests for entry to the country.
President Peres’s office says the uprooting was decided upon ahead of time.
• The U.S. is investigating whether chemical weapons were used in Syria [New York Times]
President Obama said Wednesday that the United States was investigating claims that chemical weapons had been used in Syria the day before and that he was “deeply skeptical” of the Syrian government’s assertion that the insurgency had deployed such weapons.
The president’s remarks were strong in tone and suggested that if Washington finds evidence that such weapons had been used he would hold the Syrian government responsible.
• Obama vowed to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. [AP]
“We prefer to resolve this diplomatically and there is still time to do so.” But he added that “all options are on the table” if diplomacy falls short.
“The question is, will Iranian leadership seize that opportunity,” he added. The president said Iran’s past behavior indicates that “we can’t even trust yet, much less verify.”
• Why did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tell a U.S. reporter, "don't hog it"?
President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both jabbed at NBC’s Chuck Todd for asking multiple questions at a press conference in Israel on Wednesday.
Todd relayed one question to Obama about what went “wrong” with the Middle East peace process, then turned to Netanyahu to ask a follow-up to “help out my colleague over here.” As Todd went to Obama again, the president cut him off.
“Chuck, how many you got?” Obama asked before turning to the Israeli press corps. “Do you guys do this in the Israeli press? You say you get one question and then you add, like, five? You see how the young lady from Channel 1, she had one question and she was very well-behaved, Chuck?”