U.S. Joe Biden landed in Israel Wednesday afternoon to kick off his Mideast tour.
Biden's visit to the Jewish state will last until Friday when he is expected to embark to Saudi Arabia.
The president was received with pomp and circumstance in a ceremony at the Ben Gurion Airport under the scorching sun where he was greeted by President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and other senior officials.
He greeted Lapid with a pat on the shoulder before bumping fists and with other dignitaries who lined up to greet him as the U.S. president tried to limit physical contact because of concern about rising COVID-19 cases.
Former prime minister Naftali Bennett was also on hand to greet the president whom he visited in the White House last year.
First to make statements was President Herzog, who turned to his American counterpart and called him "brother Joseph," telling him he was "truly amongst family".
"Like the biblical Joseph, you are both a visionary and a leader," Herzog said.
"Mr. President, you have been a true friend, and staunch supporter of Israel and the Jewish people, of our security and wellbeing, your entire life."
Prime Minister Lapid said Biden's visit expresses the unbreakable bond between the countries and is of personal importance to him.
“We are committed to shared values: democracy, freedom, and the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own,” Lapid said.-"You once defined yourself as a Zionist and said you don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist and you were right, you are the greatest Zionist Israel has known."
The premier also said that their discussion would include the need to "renew a strong global coalition" that will stop the Iranian nuclear program.
“Right now, we are simply happy to see you, Mr. President,” he said. “The simple, genuine joy brought by seeing a good friend once again.”
Biden then took the rostrum and echoed a similar sentiment.
“I’ll say again, you don't need to be a Jew to be a Zionist,” Biden said. “The connection between the Israeli people and the American people is bone deep."
The American leader also added that "the United States will advance Israel's integration into the region" and that "greater stability and connections are critical for all people of the region" before expressing his support for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
Biden also said the U.S. would continue to fight the "bane of antisemitism," and expressed his wish that Israel and the U.S. will grow and prosper together "for the benefit of the entire world."