WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama praised the "unshakeable" bonds between Israel and the United States Tuesday in remarks marking the start of the Jewish high holy days.


Obama paid homage to US-Israeli ties in a videotaped statement honoring the sacred Jewish holidays -- book-ended by the start of the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah on Wednesday and the day of atonement, Yom Kippur, next week.

The major Jewish holidays afford "an opportunity to reaffirm our friendships, renew our commitments, and reflect on the values we cherish," said Obama.

"My administration is doing everything we can to promote prosperity here at home and security and peace throughout the world -- and that includes reaffirming our commitment to the State of Israel," the US leader said.

"While we cannot know all that the New Year will bring, we do know this: the United States will continue to stand with Israel, because the bond between our two nations is unshakeable," he added.

Obama noted, however, that "the last year was also one of hardship for people around the world," including for the people of Israel, who, he said, "face the uncertainties of an unpredictable age."

He made his remarks with relations between the two allies strained over his call last year for a Palestinian state and Israel's refusal to extend a moratorium on construction of settlement housing in the West Bank.

The State Department on Tuesday said the United States was "deeply disappointed" that Israel had approved construction of 1,100 homes in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.