US President Barack Obama's first stop after arriving in Jerusalem this afternoon was at the official President's Residence, where President Shimon Peres gushed over his honored guest.
"Your vision can transform the Middle East," Peres told Obama as they appeared in public in the courtyard of the central Jerusalem facility. "Your voice will encourage belief in the possibility of peace. Your vision is a historic step in that direction."
Turning to the Iran nuclear threat, Peres claimed that Israel "trusts your policy which calls to try by non-military means with a clear statement that other options remain on the table."
Peres also claimed that he had never seen Israelis so excited than they were to welcome Obama.
Both claims were a bit dubious. Israel has been quite critical of what it sees as America's foot-dragging when it comes to halting Iran's nuclear ambitions, and most Israelis worry that the Obama White House doesn't fully understand how serious or intolerable the threat is to the Jewish state.
Israelis are likewise not all that excited by the current visit. Sure, the arrival of a US president makes for quite the spectacle, and the vast majority of locals love and support the US. But Israelis long ago stopped believing that such visits carried with them any hope of true advancement towards peace and security.
While at the President's Residence, Obama was serenaded by four Israeli children and planted a tree in the spacious garden.
After leaving, Obama headed to the nearby Prime Minister's Residence for hours of talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind closed doors.
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