Obama Offers Best Wishes to Israel on Its 63rd Independence Day

U.S. President sends holiday greetings as he prepares to engage in new round of Mideast diplomacy with upcoming meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordanian King Abdullah.

U.S. President Barack Obama wished the State of Israel "best wishes" on the 63rd anniversary of its independence on Monday evening.

obama peres - AP - April 5 2011

In a statement, Obama reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Israel's security, recalling that the U.S. was the first nation in the world to recognize Israel's Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948.

Obama also mentioned the American government's commitment to work with Israel and other governments in the Middle East to achieve "peace, security and dignity for the people of Israel and all the people of the region." The comment anticipates planned meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Jordan's King Abdullah scheduled to take place in the next two weeks.

"Sixty-three years ago, when Israel declared its independence, the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland was finally realized," Obama said. "On that same day, the United States became the first country in the world to recognize the State of Israel."

"As Israelis celebrate their hard-won independence, it gives me great pleasure to extend the best wishes of the American people to the people of Israel and to honor their remarkable achievements over the past six decades," Obama continued.

Obama will host Jordan's King Abdullah on May 17 to discuss unrest across the Middle East and the quest for Arab-Israeli peace, the White House said on Monday.The visit by the king, a player in past U.S.-led Israeli-Palestinan peace efforts, comes three days before Obama meets Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama's attempts to broker a Middle East peace deal have yielded little since he took office, but he has insisted there is an urgent need to seize the opportunity created by political upheaval in the broader Arab world.

"This is a period of profound change in the Middle East and North Africa, as people across the region courageously pursue the path of dignity and self-governance," Obama said.

obama - Reuters - May 7 2011

"We will continue our efforts with Israel and others in the region to achieve a comprehensive peace, including a two-state solution, and to working together toward a future of peace, security and dignity for the people of Israel and all the people of the region," Obama added.

Together with Egypt, Jordan is one of only two Arab states to have signed peace deals with Israel, a close U.S. ally.

Jordan has also not been immune from political turmoil sweeping the region. Street protests in March, coinciding with democracy demonstrations that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and threatened other authoritarian rulers, prompted Abdullah to sack his unpopular prime minister.

"The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the latest regional developments, ways to cooperate on political and economic reform," the White House said in a statement. "The president also welcomes continuing consultations with King Abdullah on the pursuit of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East."