As he arrived in Israel Wednesday, President Obama joked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he was happy to be there.

"It's good to get away from Congress," he said as cameras flashed.

"So much for the charm offensive," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded later in the day, during an interview with CNN.

Obama also gave some advice to Yair Lapid, a rising star in Israeli politics: “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.”

Netanyahu made a joke of his own. In reference to a recent interview in which Obama fantasized about heading to a Tel Aviv bar in disguise, the Israeli leader said he knew of a few places and “even picked out a fake mustache for you.”

The three-day trip is designed to engage a new Israeli government and skeptical public about Obama's second-term foreign policy intentions, after a first term that stirred resentment here about the way he approached the Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.

After the airport meeting, Obama headed from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by helicopter. He will meet with President Shimon Peres and plant a magnolia tree, transported aboard Air Force One, in the head of state’s garden. He will then hold a series of meetings in Netanyahu's official residence.