- (Photo: Reuters/Darren Whiteside)
U.S. President Barack Obama quoted Scripture upon beginning his historical trip to Israel Wednesday, which is meant to serve as a symbolic friendship gesture to the U.S.'s primary ally in the Middle East.
Upon de-boarding Air Force One at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport, President Obama reportedly held a press conference in front of Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak on the nature of his visit.
"I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bonds between our nations," Obama said at the press conference.
The President went on to make Scriptural references, referring to the Israeli people as "the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah" fulfilling "the dream of the ages."
"I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people," Obama said at the press conference.
"More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here and after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history," Obama continued.
"Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages – to be masters of their own fate in their own sovereign state," the president continued.
"We stand together because peace must come to the Holy Land," Obama continued.
The U.S. president, who visited the country before he took office in 2008, also spoke a few words in Hebrew, saying: "It's good to be back in the land of Israel."
According to Jewish newspaper The Forward, the phrasing "sons of Abraham" and "daughters of Sarah" does not apply solely to the Jewish faith, as Muslims and Christians, too, believe they are descendants of Abraham.
Critics contend that Obama's visit to Israel comes at a tumultuous time for the Middle Eastern state, and it serves primarily as an attempt to assure the wary Israeli public that it has an ally in the U.S.
The president's visit comes one day after unverified reports stemming from Syria indicated that chemical weapons were being used in the country's northern area, an issue which Obama asserted would be a "serious and tragic mistake."
Additionally, Obama asserted that there "is still time" to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's disputed nuclear weapons program.
This recent trip marks Obama's first visit to Israel as president.
Obama's three-day tour throughout the country will include visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, speaking with Israeli students, and a visit to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, among other things.
Once he leaves Israel, Obama will also visit the Palestinian Authority and Jordan this week.