US Vice President Mike Pence received a standing ovation from Israeli lawmakers, as he declared the US to be proud to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital adding that the US embassy in Tel Aviv will move to Jerusalem by the end of next year.
“The US Embassy will open [in Jerusalem] before the end of next year,” Pence said in his remarks.
Netanyahu, for his part, said that this historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, will go down in Jewish history as “one of the most formative declarations” alongside the Balfour declaration, 1947 Partition Plan, and US President Truman’s recognition of Israel in 1948.
“America has no greater friend than Israel and Israel has no greater friend than America,” Netanyahu concluded.
Pence also thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu for the warm hospitality, saying, “it is my great honor, on behalf of the President of the United States, to be in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, following on the president’s historic decision.”
He said that the two-day visit is an opportunity to talk with Netanyahu about opportunities for peace as well as “issues of common concern, ways that we can strengthen the relationship between the United States of America and Israel, ways that we can confront common challenges.”
The Vice President lauded the US-Israel relationship and their shared values, saying, “We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values […] we stand in Israel because we believe in good over evil, in liberty over tyranny.”
In that regard, Pence said that “thanks to the president’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger.”
“I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people,” he added. “The American people stand with Israel.”
Pence also referenced Abraham, the Patriarch of the Jewish people, as well as the Biblical promise that his descendants would inherit the Holy Land forever.
“Today, as I stand in Abraham’s promised land, I believe that all who cherish freedom and want a better future” should look to Israel and “marvel at what they behold.”
On the peace front, Pence strongly urged Palestinian leaders to return to the negotiating table with Israel, stressing that Trump had no intentions of harming the prospects of an Israel-Palestinian peace process with his decision to declare Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital.
“In making his historic announcement on December the 6th, President Trump did so convinced that by recognizing Israel’s capital of Jerusalem, that we would create an opportunity to move on in good faith negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on issues that can be discussed, and President Trump truly believes can be resolved.”
Pence also addressed Netanyahu, thanking him for his hospitality and friendship.
“And so I’m here, standing with you, looking forward to speaking about our common interests—in security, in prosperity—of Israel and the United States of America, but I also am here hopeful, hopeful that we are at the dawn of a new era of renewed discussions to achieve a peaceful resolution to the decades-long conflict that has affected this region.”
Strategic Affairs and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan hailed Pence’s address as “historic” and “moving,” Minister Bennett tweeted that the speech will “go down in the history books of both nations,” and opposition leader Isaac Herzog thanked the Trump administration for its “moral clarity and courageous actions.”
Just before Pence’s speech, lawmakers from the Joint Arab List were removed from the Knesset after holding signs protesting the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Likewise, PLO official Saeb Erekat condemned the speech, saying that the messianic discourse of Pence’s speech will be “a gift to extremists” and represents the problem of the region rather than the solution.