NBCNews – Barack Obama on Friday laid a stone from the grounds of the Washington memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. on the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister assassinated by a Jewish extremist enraged by his efforts to make peace with Palestinians.
“Sometimes it is harder to embark on peace then to embark on war,” Rabin’s daughter Dalia quoted Obama as telling the family at the grave site on Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery, Reuters reported.
In a televised speech Thursday, Obama appealed to ordinary Israelis to put pressure on their leaders to make a peace deal with the Palestinians. He urged Israelis to put themselves in Palestinians’ shoes and recognize their right to “self-determination, their right to justice.”
President Barack Obama places a stone taken from the grounds of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington D.C. on the grave of Yitzhak and Keah Rabin.
On Friday, the president also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
He spoke of the “wrenching power” of the memorial to the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis in World War II, calling it a “sacred place.”
“The state of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust, but with the survival of a strong Jewish state of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again,” Obama said.
At the national cemetery, Obama laid another stone — as is customary at Jewish cemeteries — on the grave of the man after which it was named, Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism who died in 1904 before realizing his dream of a Jewish homeland.
“It is humbling and inspiring to visit and remember the visionary who began the remarkable establishment of the State of Israel,” Obama wrote in the Mt. Herzl guestbook, according to The Associated Press. “May our two countries possess the same vision and will to secure peace and prosperity for future generations.”
‘Won Israeli hearts’
Obama also toured the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In the church, Obama was greeted by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land, and Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Sevan Gharibian.
The president then left on a flight to Amman, Jordan, where he will have talks and dinner with Jordan’s King Abdullah, an important ally of the U.S. in the region. Obama is due to return to the U.S. on Saturday.
An editorial Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said “Obama’s goal in coming to Israel has been achieved.”
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