George W Bush has arrived in Israel for a three-day visit during which he hopes to revive the Middle East peace process.
The US president and the First Lady were given an enthusiastic welcome at Tel Aviv airport where the entire Israeli cabinet turned out to greet them.
The trip, which coincides with celebrations marking Israel’s 60th birthday, has been overshadowed by bribery accusations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Bush, who has said he considers Olmert to be an “honest man”, had these words:
“Our two nations both faced great challenges when they were founded and our two nations have both relied on the same principles to help us succeed,” said Bush. “We built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an Almighty God. And we built an enduring alliance to confront terrorists and tyrants.”
In a stark reminder of the challenges ahead, a shopping mall came under rocket attack in the south of Israel just hours after the US president’s arrival.
More than a dozen people were wounded, three of them seriously, in the blast in the city of Ashkelon, north of the Gaza Strip.