VP Pence on Mission to Middle East: The Push For Peace


The Knesset
Jerusalem, Israel

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: President Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Speaker Edelstein, Leader Herzog, members of the Knesset, justices of the Supreme Court, citizens of Israel — (applause) — it is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy — (applause) — to have the great honor to address this Knesset, the first Vice President of the United States to be afforded that privilege here in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. (Applause.)

And I bring greetings from a leader who has done more to bring our two great countries closer together than any President in the past 70 years — the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

Thanks to the President’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger, and the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel. (Applause.)

We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.

We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.

We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done, and so has it been since my country’s earliest days.

During his historic visit to Jerusalem, President Trump declared that the bond between us, in his words, is “woven together in the hearts of our people,” and the people of the United States have always held a special affection and admiration for the people of the Book.

In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope.

My country’s very first settlers also saw themselves as pilgrims, sent by Providence, to build a new Promised Land. The songs and stories of the people of Israel were their anthems, and they faithfully taught them to their children, and do to this day. And our founders, as others have said, turned to the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible for direction, guidance, and inspiration.

America’s first President, George Washington, wrote with favor to “the children of the stock of Abraham.” Our second President, John Adams, declared that the Jews, in his words, “have done more to civilize man than any other nation.”

And your story inspired my forebears to create what our 16th President called a “new birth of freedom.” And down through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people’s aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers — (applause) — to claim your own new birth of freedom in your beloved homeland.

The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that “even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,” from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.

Through a 2,000-year exile, the longest of any people, anywhere, through conquests and expulsions, inquisitions and pogroms, the Jewish people held on to this promise, and they held on to it through the longest and darkest of nights. A night that Elie Wiesel proclaimed “seven times sealed.” A night that transformed the small faces of children into smoke under a silent sky. A night that consumed the faith of so many and that challenges the faith of so many still.

And tomorrow, when I stand with my wife at Yad Vashem to honor the 6 million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust, we will marvel at the faith and resilience of your people, who just three years after walking beneath the shadow of death, rose up from the ashes to resurrect yourselves, to reclaim a Jewish future, and to rebuild the Jewish state. (Applause.)

And this April, we will mark the day when the Jewish people answered that ancient question — can a country be born in a day, can a nation be born in a moment? — as the State of Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its birth. (Applause.)

As you prepare to commemorate this historic milestone, I say, along with the good people of Israel, here and around the world: Shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh. (Applause.)

Seventy years ago, the United States was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize the State of Israel. But as you well know, the work we began on that day was left unfinished, for while the United States recognized your nation, one administration after another refused to recognize your capital.

But just last month, President Donald Trump made history. He righted a 70-year wrong; he kept his word to the American people when he announced that the United States of America will finally acknowledge Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. (Applause.)

The Jewish people’s unbreakable bond to this sacred city reaches back more than 3,000 years. It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in God.

It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government.

Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (Applause.) In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year. (Applause.)

Our President made his decision, in his words, “in the best interests of the United States.” But he also made it clear that we believe that his decision is in the best interests of peace. By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace.

Under President Trump, the United States of America remains fully committed to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (Applause.)

In announcing his decision on Jerusalem, the President also called, in his words, “on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites, including at the Temple Mount, also known as the Haram al-Sharif.” And he made it clear that we’re not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders.

And President Trump reaffirmed that, if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution. (Applause.)

We know Israelis want peace, and we know that Israelis need no lectures on the price of war. The people of Israel know the terrible price all too well. Your Prime Minister knows that price. He himself was nearly killed in battle, and his beloved brother Yoni was killed while courageously leading the Entebbe hostage rescue 41 years ago.

And you, who know the price of war, know best what the blessings of peace can bring — to you, to your children, and future generations.

The United States appreciates your government’s declared willingness to resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. And today, we strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue. (Applause.)

Now, we recognize that peace will require compromise, but you can be confident in this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the State of Israel. (Applause.) Any peace agreement must guarantee Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself.

Now, there are those who believe that the world can’t change; that we’re destined to engage in endless violence; that age-old conflicts can’t be solved; and that hope itself is an illusion. But, my friends, President Trump doesn’t believe it. I don’t believe it. And neither do you.

I stand here today in the city whose very name means peace. And [as] I stand here, I know that peace is possible because history records that Israel has made the very difficult decisions to achieve peace with its neighbors in the past.

Over the past two days, I’ve traveled to Egypt and Jordan, two nations with whom Israel has long enjoyed the fruits of peace. I spoke with America’s great friends, President Al Sisi of Egypt, and King Abdullah of Jordan, about the courage of their predecessors who forged an end to conflict with Israel in their time.

And those two leaders prove every day that trust and confidence can be a reality among the great nations who call these ancient lands home.

In my time with those leaders, and with your Prime Minister, we discussed the remarkable transformation that is taking place across the Middle East today, and the need to forge a new era of cooperation in our day and age.

The winds of change can already be witnessed across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners. Old foes are finding new ground for cooperation. And the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause as never before.

Last year, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump addressed an unprecedented gathering of leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. He challenged the people of this region to work ever closer together, to recognize shared opportunities and to confront shared challenges. And the President urged all who call the Middle East their home to, in his words, “meet history’s great test — [and] conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism together.” (Applause.)

Radical Islamic terrorism knows no borders — targeting America, Israel, nations across the Middle East, and the wider world. It respects no creed — stealing the lives of Jews, Christians, and especially Muslims. And radical Islamic terrorism understands no reality other than brute force.

Together with our allies, we will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth. (Applause.)

I’m pleased to report that, thanks to the courage of our armed forces and our allies, at this very moment ISIS is on the run, their capital has fallen, their so-called caliphate has crumbled. And you can be assured we will not rest, we will not relent, until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source, so it can no longer threaten our people, our allies, or our very way of life. (Applause.)

Now, the United States and Israel have long stood together to confront the terrible evil of terrorism, and so we will continue. And across the Middle East, Arab leaders have responded, as well, to the President’s call with unprecedented action to root out radicalism and prove the emptiness of its apocalyptic promises.

As President Trump made clear in Saudi Arabia, we will continue to stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies. We will work with all of our partners to starve, in his words, “terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology.”

We will also support faith leaders in this region and across the world, as they teach their disciples to practice love, not hate. And we will help persecuted peoples, who have suffered so much at the hands of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

To this end, the United States has redirected funding from ineffective relief efforts. And, for the first time, we are providing direct support to Christian and other religious minorities as they rebuild their communities after years of repression and war. (Applause.)

The United States has already committed more than $110 million to assist Christian and other religious minorities across the wider Middle East. And we urge our allies — here in Israel, in Europe, and across the world — to join us in this cause. Let’s work together to restore the rich splendor of religious diversity across the Middle East, so that all faiths may once again flourish in the lands where they were born. (Applause.)

As we work to defeat the scourge of terrorism, and give aid to those who have suffered at its hands, we must also be resolved and vigilant to prevent old adversaries from gaining any new ground.

To that end, the United States will continue to work with Israel, and with nations across the world, to confront the leading state sponsor of terror — the Islamic Republic of Iran. (Applause.)

As the world has seen once again, the brutal regime in Iran is merely a brutal dictatorship that seeks to dominate its citizens and deny them of their most fundamental rights. History has proven, those who dominate their own people rarely stop there. And increasingly, we see Iran seeking to dominate the wider Arab world.

That dangerous regime sows chaos across the region. Last year alone, even as its citizens cried out for help with basic necessities, Iran devoted more than $4 billion to malign activities in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere across the region. It has supported terrorist groups that even now sit on Israel’s doorstep. And worst of all, the Iranian regime has pursued a clandestine nuclear program, and at this very hour is developing advanced ballistic missiles.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the previous administration in America signed a deal with Iran that merely delays the day when that regime can acquire a nuclear weapon. The Iran nuclear deal is a disaster, and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement. (Applause.)

At President Trump’s direction, we’re working to enact effective and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Earlier this month, the President waived sanctions on Iran to give the Congress and our European allies time to pass stronger measures. But as President Trump made clear, this is the last time.

Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump has said the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately. (Applause.)

Whatever the outcome of those negotiations, today I have a solemn promise to Israel, to all the Middle East, and to the world: The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. (Applause.) Beyond the nuclear deal, we will also no longer tolerate Iran’s support of terrorism, or its brutal attempts to suppress its own people.

Last year, our administration more than tripled the number of sanctions targeting Iran and its leaders. And just this month, the United States issued tough new sanctions on Iran.

But I have another message today — a better message — from the people of America to the proud and great people of Iran: We are your friends, and the day is coming when you will be free from the evil regime that suffocates your dreams and buries your hopes. (Applause.) And when your day of liberation finally comes, we say to the good people of Iran, the friendship between our peoples will blossom once again. (Applause.)

While at times it may seem hard to see, those who call the Middle East their home have more that unites them than divides them — not only in common threats, but in the common hope for a future of security and prosperity and peace, and in the common ancestry of faith that runs throughout these very lands.

Nearly 4,000 years ago, a man left his home in Ur of the Chaldeans to travel here, to Israel. He ruled no empire, he wore no crown, he commanded no armies, he performed no miracles, delivered no prophecies, yet to him was promised “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.”

Today, Jews, Christians, and Muslims — more than half the population of the Earth, and nearly all the people of the Middle East — claim Abraham as their forefather in faith. Only steps from here, in the Old City of Jerusalem, we see the followers of these three great religions in constant contact with one another. And we see each faith come to life in new and renewed ways every day.

At the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we see a Christian child receiving the gift of grace, in baptism. At the Western Wall, we see a young Jewish boy being bar-mitzvahed. And at the Haram al-Sharif, we see young Muslims, heads bowed in prayer.

In Jerusalem, we see all this and more. And so today, as I stand in Abraham’s “Promised Land,” I believe that all who cherish freedom, and seek a brighter future, should cast their eyes here to this place and marvel at what they behold.

How unlikely was Israel’s birth; how more unlikely has been her survival. And how confounding, and against the odds, has been her thriving. You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future.

Israel is like a tree that has grown deep roots in the soil of your forefathers, yet as it grows, it reaches ever closer to the heavens. And today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as your own.

It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again.

The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends. (Applause.)

And so we will “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” that “those who love you be secure,” that “there be peace within your walls, and security in your citadels.”

And we will work and strive for that brighter future where everyone who calls this ancient land their home shall sit “under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.”

With an unshakeable bond between our people, and our shared commitment to freedom, I say from my heart: May God bless the Jewish people, may God bless the State of Israel and all who call these lands their home, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Prime Minister’s Residence
Jerusalem, Israel

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Vice President Pence, Mike, Sara and I want to welcome, again, you and Karen to Jerusalem. We’ve known each other for a good many years. And from the day I met you, I knew you were a true friend.

I remember vividly, one day in 2009, when I came to meet the congressional leadership in Washington. And, Mike, you spoke up with such clarity and such conviction in support of the direction I was leading Israel. I will never forget that. And I was touched to learn earlier today that you have a photograph of that very meeting in the Vice President’s residence, in Washington. So it’s truly an honor for Sara and me to host you and Karen tonight, in our residence. And our wives further deepen our friendship.

I want to express once again Israel’s appreciation to President Trump and to you for the historic decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as our capital. I also want to commend you for your magnificent speech in the Knesset today. You saw people standing up again and again, applauding you — applauding the principles that guide your policy, applauding the genuine friendship that emanates from your heart.

It was a powerful expression of the enduring bond between our two countries and of your personal commitment to Israel, the commitment of President Trump and your entire delegation.

Earlier today, we discussed both common challenges and common opportunities in a very turbulent Middle East. And the foremost challenge comes from Iran. The tyrants of Tehran have spent billions of dollars spreading murder and mayhem throughout the Middle East to advance their poisonous ideology.

I want to salute both President Trump and you, Mr. Vice President, for standing with the people of Iran, when so many in Europe and elsewhere were shamefully silent. Some — and this is hard to believe — some actually hosted the regime’s mouthpieces while its goons were throwing thousands of Iranian protestors into prison.

I share the belief you expressed today in the Knesset, that Iran’s radical regime will ultimately fall, and one day Iran’s people will win the freedom they so justly deserve. And when that day comes, they will remember those who stood with them and those who stood with their oppressors. You’re on the right side of history.

Like President Trump, Israel believes the nuclear deal with Iran is disastrous. It ultimately paves Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal, and a regime that arms terrorists throughout the world, calls for Israel’s destruction, calls “death to America” and “death to Israel.” Such a regime should not have nuclear weapons.

That’s why Israel supports President Trump’s policy regarding the deal. And there is still time for leaders to seize the opportunity that President Trump has offered them — to correct the failings of this failed deal. But if those leaders do not seize that opportunity, or if they offer only cosmetic changes, Israel will unequivocally support the President’s decision to walk away from a bad deal and restore crippling sanctions. Our position is clear: Fully fix it, or fully nix it.

The Vice President and I also discussed opportunities for advancing peace. As countries in the region increasingly realize that Israel is not their enemy but a great ally of their wishes for a better future, the chances grow for a broader reconciliation. Israel will continue to work with President Trump’s able representatives — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, Ambassador David Friedman, along with our Ambassador Ron Dermer — to advance peace with all our neighbors, including the Palestinians.

The sooner the Palestinians accept the truth about the millennial connection of the Jewish people to this land and to this city, the sooner we can work together to reach an historic agreement that will create a better future for both our peoples.

We know that, in all these efforts, we have no better friends than President Trump and you, Mr. Vice President.

Once again, Mike, Sara and I are honored to host such dear friends of Israel, of the Jewish people, and dear personal friends. Thank you for being a stalwart champion of the alliance between America and Israel, and thank you for all you are doing to strengthen that alliance.

Welcome to Jerusalem. Welcome to our home. Thank you. (Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Mr. Prime Minister and Sara, it is a great honor for Karen and me to be in your home tonight. And the events of this day have been deeply humbling for me, Mr. Prime Minister.

The American people cherish our relationship with Israel. And your comments today, before the Knesset, your comments here this evening, and your gracious words toward our President and myself are deeply meaningful to me and, I know, meaningful to every American who cherishes our historic alliance.

It is an honor for me to stand with you here today, in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. (Applause.) I spoke to the President this afternoon, shortly after my address, and he asked me to give you not only his greetings but his thanks — thank you for the hospitality and the warm welcome you’ve extended to his Vice President.

But more to the point, the President wanted me to thank you for your stirring words before the Knesset and your stalwart commitment to freedom, your strong leadership for the people of Israel, and your commitment — your unbending commitment — to the relationship between the United States and Israel.

Over the past three days, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across this region. I met with President Al Sisi in Egypt and King Abdullah in Jordan. We talked about the changing times in which we live. Those two nations, as I said today, that forged peace with Israel years ago, and now recognize the rise of a common threat in Iran, and the opportunity that we have for, in your words, Mr. Prime Minister, a broader reconciliation across the region. And we share that aspiration and that ambition.

But I’m here today, in Israel, to simply celebrate and affirm the bond between our two people. We stand together for our prosperity and our security. We stand together in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism. And we stand together for a brighter future for both of our nations.

Before we return to the United States tomorrow, Karen and I will take a moment to pay our respects at Yad Vashem. And we’ll have the privilege to pray at the Western Wall. And I must tell you, this is our fourth trip to the Holy Land, but we never fail to leave here without a sense that our faith has been renewed — our faith in God, but also our faith in the extraordinary people of Israel and in their commitment to freedom and security and peace.

And I must say, I leave here with confidence that with President Trump in the White House, and with your strong leadership here in Israel, that the best days for the United States and our most cherished ally, Israel, are yet to come.

Thank you. Karen and I look forward to a lovely dinner with you and Sara. And we are grateful for your friendship and hospitality. (Applause.)

The Prime Minister has granted me leave to address news on the home front, back in the United States. And let me say, we welcome the news that thanks to the firm stand taken by President Trump, and House and Senate Republicans, the government shutdown in Washington, D.C. is coming to an end. (Applause.)

Now, the American people know what happened here. A minority in the United States Senate chose to shut down the government, denying our soldiers benefits and wages that they earned, jeopardizing government services just to advance an issue pertaining to illegal immigration. But the Schumer Shutdown failed.

Now that the government is reopening, Congress can get back to work advancing the President’s agenda — an agenda that’s already created more than 2 million jobs, is setting records on the American stock market, has restored American strength and credibility in the world. And I look forward to returning to Washington, D.C. tomorrow and working closely with members of Congress to continue to advance our President’s agenda. And it is, Mr. Prime Minister, an agenda that’s making America great again.

Thank you for the opportunity. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Thank you. You’re all invited to our budget deliberations in the Knesset in the coming weeks. (Laughter.)

Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you.


The Presidency
Jerusalem, Israel

PRESIDENT RIVLIN: Welcome, Vice President. You a dear — a dear friend to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel. We are very proud, and I would like to thank you about your speech yesterday, about the strong, the warm, and the very special word that you used yesterday in our shrine of democracy, in our parliament, in our Knesset — Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.

You are very proud, always, to stand very firm behind your words, in words and in action. And for that, we have only one word to describe you: You are a mensch. (Laughter.) Now, in America, probably they know what is the meaning of mensch. But for those people in Israel who doesn’t know American, or Yiddish, I would say, a mensch is a real human being. (Speaks Hebrew.) And we are very proud to have you along with us.

As a Jerusalemite — and I am a Jerusalemite, son of Jerusalemite, son of the son of Jerusalemite — I am here born as seventh generation to my family. We have come to Jerusalem 210 years ago. One hundred years we have lived with our neighbors and our cousins, the Arab community in Jerusalem, in harmony. Unfortunately, we are now in a sort of tragedy for both of us. They are — most of them refuse even to recognize the very existence of the State of Israel.

But we are so very proud as Jerusalemites about the decision of President Trump, about recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

You have to know, my tutor, former Prime Minister Menachem Begin at the time had said the obvious should be said from time to time, even be written down. And the obvious was said, and we appreciated very much. And we see it as a real gift for the 70th anniversary of the state of Israel.

In spite of the words that President Abbas have used only last week, I must say that we have to continue in order to find a way to build confidence between the two people.

Unfortunately, there is no confidence. The less confidence that we have brings us to leave — as we leave without the ability to find a way in order to get to any kind of understanding that we are not doomed to live together; it is our destiny. But they have to understand that the Jewish people have returned back to the homeland, not as compensation because of the Holocaust, but we have returned back to our land only because it is our fatherland. That was the reason why my family came here 200 years ago.

We welcome you once again. And we appreciate very much what you are doing for the Jewish people and what you have done until now, and we know what you can do — and you will do — in the future.

Welcome, Mr. Vice President. It is a real pressure to have you with us.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, President Rivlin. Thank you for the warm welcome on your part, on the part of the First Lady. We are honored to be with you today at the home of the President of Israel. And it is deeply meaningful for me to be able to be with you, here in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.

It was my great honor yesterday to be afforded the opportunity to be the first Vice President of the United States to address the Knesset. And I want to thank you personally for your attendance at my remarks, and I thank you for your gracious words.

Let me say that President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital we hope is the clearest sign yet of the unwavering commitment of the United States of America to Israel. As I announced yesterday, Mr. President, President Trump has directed our State Department, working with Ambassador Friedman, to complete the transition of moving our embassy here, to Jerusalem, by the end of next year. And we look forward to that as a tangible sign of our enduring commitment and alliance to the State of Israel and to the people of this great nation.

The bond between us, we believe, has never been stronger. But under President Trump’s leadership, we are committed to make it stronger still. We have ties through our deep commitment to freedom, shared values, but also through commerce. More than $45 billion in trade takes place between the United States, supporting jobs in our country and yours. And our security collaboration has never been more robust.

We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism. And I thank you, Mr. President, for your government’s courage, for the courage of your military. And I pledge to you a continued collaboration and cooperation on behalf of our mutual security.

We also stand together against the threat of the leading state sponsor of terror, Iran. And just know that, in President Trump’s recent decision to announce that the waiver that he would sign on sanctions, under the Iran nuclear deal, would be the last one. We are sending a signal to our European allies that the time has come for changes in the Iran nuclear deal; that we’ll ensure that the sunset provisions in the deal are completely eliminated, and that punitive sanctions will be available for many years to come to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

And you have our commitment to work closely with our allies around the world to achieve that. If our allies will not join us, President Trump has made it clear that we will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately. But we hope — we hope in the months ahead to be able to strengthen it, to contribute to the security of the region, Israel’s security, and the security of American interests as well.

All of that said, the President also sent me here to reiterate our nation’s deep commitment to peace. And I’m very moved by your reflections, since I first arrived, about what Jerusalem means to peace and the way that people of the three great faiths of the world here have lived together in harmony for generations. And President Trump truly believes that the decision the United States has made to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we believe will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace, and end the decades-long conflict that has beset.

PRESIDENT RIVLIN: You say in Arabic, Inshallah. We say in Arabic, “with God’s help,” Inshallah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Indeed. And so let me thank you again for your warm hospitality. We are grateful for your leadership and for your friendship. And I look forward to our discussion to explore ways that we can make the ties that bind America and Israel even stronger.

Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT RIVLIN: Thank you so very much, Mr. Vice President. We would like to talk on three subjects: First of all, is Jerusalem — the (inaudible) of Jerusalem; second, we would like to talk about Syria after the civil war and after ISIS; and at the end, we would like to exchange ideas about what is going in Gaza. Along with us is the —

(Press is escorted out.)



Al Husseiniya Palace

Amman, Jordan

KING ABDULLAH: Mr. Vice President, on behalf of all of us here in Jordan, we welcome you to our country. We’re delighted to have you here.

As we had just discussed, having family members of your family through Jordan has been a particular pleasure for us, and I’m glad that we’re seeing you here today, especially when it comes at a very critical point in our region.

First, I would like to acknowledge and thank the U.S. for its historical friendship and support to Jordan across many, many years. You have been a partner that has always stood with our country and our people through very difficult times. And I just wanted to express how much we appreciate the continuous support that we get from your country.

Our wide-ranging discussions today, I believe, are timely. And, as always, as friends and partners, we will be candid and frank with each other.

As you are aware, obviously for us, the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, for Jordan and the region, we see as a potential major source of instability. That is why we were encouraged by the President’s commitment to bring a solution to this decades-long conflict.

So I had continuously voiced over the past year, in my meetings with Washington, my concerns regarding the U.S. decision on Jerusalem that does not come as a result of a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And I know that we are going to talk about that today, and that you have come points that you’re going to raise.

Again, for us, Jerusalem is key to Muslims and Christians as it is to Jews. It is key to peace in the region and key to enabling Muslims to effectively fight some of our root causes of radicalization.

Today, we have a major challenge to overcome, especially with some of the rising frustrations. And I think it’s very important, and your visit here, I’m sure, is to rebuild the trust and confidence in not only how we move forward with a two-state solution on — for us, the June 4th, 1967 lines and East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state, but living side by side with a secure and recognized Israel in accordance with international laws and the Arab Peace Initiative.

We understand the challenges, and we hope that the U.S. will reach out and find the right way to move forward in these challenging circumstances. We believe that, with all the right intentions and the support of the international community, this is extremely possible and we will work very closely with our friends in this endeavor.

So, again, I want to reiterate our historic partnership that has always been underpinned by the friendship between our two countries and our mutual interest in advancing peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.

And today, I know that we’ll be talking about some bilateral issues as well as some key regional issues, and our commitment and our steadfastness with our partners to fight terrorism.

So, sir, I welcome you and your delegation here to Jordan. I’m sure that we’ll have some very interesting discussions. But I’m glad to have you here, sir, and to hear from all of you how we can all move forward and make this part of the world a better place for all of us.

Thank you, sir.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, thank you, Your Majesty. Thank you for the warm hospitality of our entire delegation. And it is good to see you and Her Majesty, and to be able to come with my wife and our team to your beautiful country. Thank you for the hospitality.

I bring greetings from your friend, President Donald Trump, who asked me to come to Jordan to talk about a broad range of issues in security and prosperity, and regional issues with you. And I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do that.

As you mentioned, Your Majesty, the United States and Jordan have stood together for decades. It has been a partnership strategic in scope, important in the region, and important in the world. And we are here to reaffirm our friendship and our partnership, and our great respect for you and for the role that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has played in this region and across the globe, and during all the time of our friendship and partnership.

I’m also here to express our great admiration for your leadership and the courage of the Jordanian military in the fight against terrorism. Together with the American military and the Iraqi military, and our coalition partners, we’ve made dramatic progress in the battle against ISIS, driving ISIS out of Iraq, driving ISIS out of the capital of their so-called caliphate of Raqqa. And you can be assured that we will continue to work closely with you as we drive ISIS out of existence together.

Let me also say that, as the United States made clear in recent days, we remain committed to Syria, to a presence in Syria, not only to defeat ISIS, but to restrain the malign influence of Iran and other efforts in the region that would add to further destabilization. We look forward to working with you, Your Majesty, on the U.N.-led political process to free that country of the Assad regime and give Syria a new future and a fresh start toward peace and prosperity.

Let me also say, at President Trump’s direction, we’re announcing in the last week more than $110 million that the United States is making available to rebuild Christian and religious-minority communities in Iraq and Syria that have been decimated by war. And we’re grateful for your personal commitment to religious diversity and religious freedom, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that all the peoples of all different faiths can find a way forward and recover after these years of conflict.

There are issues between our two countries that I look forward to illuminating: ways that we can strengthen our ties on security; ways that we can continue to work closely with you, Your Majesty, to advance the prosperity of all of the people of Jordan. But there are also regional issues, and among friends, I look forward to hearing, again, your perspective.

President Trump made a historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but as he also made clear in that decision, that we are committed to continue to respect Jordan’s role as the custodian of holy sites; that we take no position on boundaries and final status. Those are subject to negotiation.

And as I’ve made clear to you, and the President made clear to the world, the United States of America remains committed, if the parties agree, to a two-state solution. We are committed to restarting the peace process. And Jordan does now, and has always, played a central role in facilitating peace in the region. And we look forward to your counsel and to your direct and central involvement in that process in the days ahead.

So we are here as partners for security. We are here as partners in both of our nations’ prosperity. And we are here as friends. And to both of Your Majesties, we thank you for extending the hospitality of the Hashemite Kingdom, and I look very much forward to our discussion.


Military Facility in the Middle East

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for that warm welcome. And at ease, ladies and gentlemen. To General Robinson, Chief Hedden, Colonel Quirk, and to the men and women of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Red Tails —

AUDIENCE: Spit fire!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: — it is my great honor — great honor to join you here today in the midst of your efforts to fly and fight on this front line. You are the heroes of Operation Inherent Resolve. Give yourselves a round of applause! (Applause.)

My wife Karen and I couldn’t leave the Middle East without first coming by to see all of you on this important frontier. And we bring you greetings from your Commander-in-Chief and a tireless champion of the Armed Forces of the United States, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

You know, the President asked me to come by here just to give you a simple message — to tell you he’s proud of you; to tell you that you’re on the hearts and on the minds of all of the American people. And we’re here today to tell you that your nation is thankful for your service, more thankful than you’ll ever know.

You know, many people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. But you will never have that problem. The Armed Forces of the United States are the world’s greatest force for good, and you chose to be a part of that greatest force. (Applause.) You chose to do your part in our time to keep lit and to defend the flame of freedom, and hand it on to generations yet to come.

As the Old Book says, “You did not love your lives so much as to shrink” from this calling. And you have your Commander-in-Chief and my deepest respects for your courage and for your valor.

The truth is, you’re the best of us — heroes all. And this unit in particular has a special place in the hearts of the American people and in the history of our nation.

The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing is steeped in the heritage of freedom. Your story, as the General just alluded, stretches back more than three quarters of a century to the Tuskegee Airmen, who broke down barriers in the Air Force and flew for freedom in the Second World War.

To this day, in the 332nd, “the legacy continues.” And now, as then, the men and women of this remarkable unit soar across the skies in defense of our people and our most precious values.

And I stand before you today, on this frontier — let me assure you: President Donald Trump has your back, Red Tails. (Applause.) In fact, I believe when the history books are written, it will show that this President was the best friend the Armed Forces of the United States have ever had.

Since the first day of our administration, we’ve fought tirelessly to make the strongest fighting force in history stronger still. In the first few months in office, President Trump signed the largest increase in military spending in nearly 10 years. And just last month, he signed one of the largest investments in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan, including the largest pay raise for military members in eight years. (Applause.)

And across the board, we’re keeping our promise to rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy. And we’ll continue to fight every day to give each and every one of you airmen, and our soldiers, and our sailors, our Marines, and our Coast Guard the resources and training you need to accomplish your mission and come home safe. We’re fighting for you every day because we know you’re fighting in this frontier for the safety and security of the American people.

As President Trump has said, “Only when the good are strong will peace prevail.” And we admire and are grateful for your strength.

In fact, that’s what brings up to this place at this time. You’re here, so far away from home, because the battle lines of freedom stretch across these ancient lands. As the warfighters of Operation Inherent Resolve, you’ve answered the call to confront, and defeat, the embodiment of evil in our time — the barbarians known as ISIS.

It’s remarkable to think three-and-a-half years ago, those brutal terrorists proclaimed the start of a 1,000-year caliphate — a caliphate they promised would soon spread from Syria and Iraq across the wider world. In service of this apocalyptic vision, the murderers of ISIS have shown a savagery unseen in the Middle East since the Middle Ages. They enslaved women and children. They slaughtered the followers of any faith that differed from theirs. They inspired attacks on our allies and even on our homeland, and claimed the lives of fellow citizens.

By its actions and by its ideology, ISIS has shown itself to be the enemy of America and of freedom-loving nations across the wider world. And so we resolved to confront this enemy with all of our might. And because of your courage and valor and professionalism, we are driving the evil of ISIS from the face of the Earth. (Applause.)

The men and women of the 332nd have been the instruments of American power in this fight, in this region. You’re the sword that struck our enemy, and the shield that protects our families and our freedom.

And under the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, you’ve taken the fight to ISIS — on our terms, on their soil. And thanks to your courage and your relentless pursuit of victory, ISIS is on the run.

You’ve fought and flown alongside our coalition partners, striking ISIS again and again. You’ve given those terrorists no quarter. You’ve driven them from their strongholds. And thanks to your heroic actions, ISIS has been crushed; their so-called caliphate has fallen and crumbled. We’ve retaken the capital of that so-called caliphate. And you have liberated more than 90 percent of their territory and freed more than 7.5 million people from their terrorist grip. (Applause.)

And I will promise all of you that have done the work and are in the fight at this very hour: We will not rest, we will not relent, until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source, so it can no longer threaten our people, our allies, or our way of life. (Applause.)

As the President has said, we will be finished with ISIS very soon. And he’s ordered the Armed Forces of the United States to remain engaged in the fight against our terrorist enemies in Syria, in Iraq, and across the wider region. I believe, because of your valor, the day will come when ISIS, al Qaeda, and radical Islamic terrorism are no more than a distant memory. Their defeat will be a lasting monument to the unconquerable spirit of the Armed Forces of the United States.

And we will not waver in our resolve to confront the leading state sponsor of terrorism, the dictatorship in Iran. You know, Iran hopes to become the dominant power in the Middle East, by expanding its influence amidst the ruins of ISIS’s former territory. The ayatollahs in Tehran ultimately hope to threaten America’s allies across the wider region. But President Trump has put Iran on notice.

The United States of America will no longer tolerate Iran’s attempts to spread its malign influence or strengthen terrorists across this region. (Applause.) And as President Trump has made clear, the United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a usable nuclear weapon. That is our promise to our allies and to the world. (Applause.)

The security of our nation and the safety of our people depends on the stability of the Middle East. And so, American power will continue to be the strong hand in this corner of the world. And you will be that strength.

As you stand a post, I want you to know that your Commander-in-Chief, and all of the American people, are behind you 100 percent. And nothing that happens in our nation’s capital will ever change that.

I’m sure you’re all aware of what’s going on in Washington, D.C. Despite bipartisan support for a budget resolution, a minority in the Senate has decided to play politics with military pay. But you deserve better. You and your families shouldn’t have to worry for one minute about whether you’re going to get paid as you serve in the uniform of the United States.

So know this: Your President, your Vice President, and the American people are not going to put up with it. (Applause.) We’re going to demand that they re-open the government. In fact, we’re not going to re-open negotiations on illegal immigration until they re-open the government and give you, our soldiers and your families, the benefits and wages you’ve earned. (Applause.)

Just as each of you will do whatever it takes to defend our country, just know that President Trump and I will do whatever it takes to defend you and your families. That said, you can be confident we’re going to get this fixed. We’re going to meet our obligations to you and your families. And we’re going to make the strongest fighting force in the history of the world stronger still.

So I urge you, on behalf of your Commander-in-Chief, set aside any distractions, mind your mission, take care of one another, and never doubt that every day, every operation, every decision that you make matters to your country more than you’ll ever know.

You know, it’s deeply humbling for me to stand before a group of men and women like you. My life never took me into the uniform of the United States. You know, I’m the proud son of a combat veteran from Korea and the proud father of a United States Marine. But the course of my life didn’t lead me into military service.

But I know — I know that your service comes with sacrifice. I know the sacrifices that you and your families make, and the burdens that you bear. But I want to assure you today that you and your families do not bear that burden alone. As you stand here in this distant land, I can promise you that your President, and a grateful nation, stand behind you.

You are the strength and the pride of the American people. And whether you soar in the skies above, or support those who do here on the ground, just know that every day, in homes large and small, around dinner tables and at gatherings, and at places of worship and in quiet moments, the American people are breathing a prayer for each and every one of you, giving thanks for your courage and asking God for your protection.

And I truly believe, as long as we have men and women like you, with the courage to step forward and serve, as long as we have heroes willing to put your lives on the line, as long as we have patriots like all of you to defend our nation, I know our country will be safe, our freedom will be secure, and the future of the greatest nation on Earth and the best days for the greatest nation on Earth are yet to come.

So may God watch over the men and women of the 332nd. May God protect you and bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Thank you. (Applause.)


Al Etehadiya Palace
Cairo, Egypt

PRESIDENT AL SISI: (As interpreted.) Allow me, Mr. Vice President, to welcome you as a dear guest to Egypt, and please convey my greetings and appreciation to my friend, President Trump, and to the whole American nation.

Mr. Vice President, your visit speaks volume of the size and depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and the United States. It also provides a very good opportunity to discuss all areas of cooperation and the issues of mutual concern. We will also address the issues in the region and the urgent issues concerning counterterrorism, and ways how to eliminate this disease of cancer that has terrified the whole world.

We will also have an opportunity to discuss peace and peace issues as one of the most important issues here in this region.

Mr. Vice President, we highly appreciate to come to Egypt as your first stop in your tour of the region. This is a real reflection of the level and depth of the bilateral relations that bind our two countries together.

Once again, we welcome you, Mr. Vice President, as a dear guest to us.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, thank you, President Al Sisi, for the hospitality and for the discussions that have already taken place and will continue. The strategic partnership that exists between the United States of America and Egypt is of great importance to the American people.

And on my first trip to the Middle East as Vice President, we thought it was reflective of that historic, strategic partnership that we come to Egypt first. And I’m grateful for your hospitality.

As I said to you, I bring you greetings from your friend, the President of the United States, who sends his gratitude to you for your leadership on economic reforms that have brought about the renewed prosperity in Egypt and renewed commercial exchange between our countries.

The broader relationship between the United States of America and Egypt has also been renewed in the last year. After a time where our countries seemed to be drifting apart in the last year, thanks to your leadership and the relationship that you and President Trump has forged, we believe the ties between Egypt and the United States have never been stronger.

We are united not just in commerce and in prosperity, but most importantly, in a commitment to security. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in Egypt in the fight against terrorism. Our hearts grieve as Americans for the loss of life to terrorist attacks that have taken place against the Coptic Christian community here in the last year, and, of course, the horrific attack on a mosque this last November that claimed the lives of more than 300 innocent men, women, and children.

We resolve to continue to stand with Egypt in the battle against terrorism. And, Mr. President, we’re grateful for your leadership in that cause.

We’ve had productive discussions today on a broad range of issues of mutual concern in the relationship between the United States and Egypt, and also in the wider region. And I’m confident, as we work through those issues, we will continue to do so as partners and as friends.

And I thank you for your commitment to this relationship, the strategic partnership, and I thank you for your great hospitality.

PRESIDENT AL SISI: (As interpreted.) Thank you, Mr. Vice President.



Cairo International Airport
Cairo, Egypt

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, good evening, everybody.  We just completed a very productive, positive, and extensive discussion on a broad range of issues with President Al Sisi.  And I can’t help but marvel at the strength of the relationship that President Trump and President Al Sisi have forged, after years where our two countries were drifting apart.  In the last year, I truly believe because of President Trump’s leadership and the relationship he’s developed with President Al Sisi, that the relationship, the collaboration between the United States and Egypt has never been stronger.

But we spoke today on a number of issues, about how we might work in even greater common cause.  And I will leave Egypt very encouraged by the conversations and even more grateful for the strong, strategic partnership that the United States enjoys with Egypt.

We spoke most significantly about our efforts to combat terrorism.  Egypt has been beset by terrorist attacks over the last year that have been brought to places of worship, from Coptic Christian churches to, last November, more than 300 people were killed in an attack on a mosque in the midst of worship.

The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Egypt in their fight against terrorism in this country, and we will continue to collaborate with Egypt in taking the fight to terrorists across the region.  We’ve made extraordinary progress in the fight against ISIS over the last year.  Our military, our coalition forces, working closely with Iraq, have literally driven ISIS out of Iraq.  We have overtaken the so-called capital of their caliphate in Raqqa, and we’re continuing to lead and lean into that fight.

And the deep discussions today with President Al Sisi about how we might continue together to work with Egypt and other allies across the region to confront and to defeat Islamic terrorism across this region and across the world were productive and meaningful.

We also raised a number of other issues on the global stage.  We spoke about the priority President Trump has placed on isolating North Korea economically and diplomatically.  We spoke with President Al Sisi about how important it would be for them to discontinue any diplomatic connection to North Korea.  And he received that well, and we’re very hopeful to see Egypt take action in the days ahead to join other nations that are standing with the United States and with nations across the world to isolate North Korea.

We also spoke about the importance of religious freedom — a great priority for the people of the United States of America — and urged President Al Sisi on in his commitment to promote religious diversity and the respect for all religious viewpoints here in Egypt.

We also spoke about the need for a reform — reform legislation regarding NGOs, the impact on Americans employed by NGOs in this country.  And we had a productive and constructive conversation about that.

And, lastly, I raised specifically the situation for two Americans who are currently being held, imprisoned here in Egypt — Ahmed Etwiy and Mustafa Kassem — who have been imprisoned here since 2013.  And President Al Sisi assured me that he would give that very serious attention in both cases.  I told him we’d like to see those American citizens restored to their families and restored to our country, even as they deal with the necessary reforms in the NGO.

Lastly, we had a discussion about the commitment of the United States to the peace process between Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.  We heard President Al Sisi — he said to me what he said publicly about a disagreement between friends over our decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  But I assured him that, even as President Trump made that decision — a decision that I will reaffirm in Jordan and reaffirm in Israel before the end of this trip — that we’ll also reaffirm what President Trump also said: that we’re absolutely committed to preserving the status quo with regard to holy sites in Jerusalem; that we have come to no final resolution about boundaries or other issues that are going to be negotiated between the parties.  And if the parties agree, I reminded President Al Sisi that President Trump said that, if the parties agree, we will support a two-state solution.

My perception was that he was encouraged by that message.  I told him I would be delivering that message in Jordan, delivering that message in Israel, as well.

The United States of America is deeply committed to restarting the peace process in the Middle East.  President Trump believes that, by removing the long, contentious issue about the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, that we will be able to return to those matters that can be negotiated between the parties.  And I conveyed that message to President Al Sisi.

But, ultimately, this was a discussion between friends and partners and allies.  We ended the evening with a memorable dinner at the presidential palace.  And I leave here with gratitude to President Al Sisi for his hospitality and with a great, great sense of the bond that President Trump and President Al Sisi have forged to the benefit, I believe, of the security and the prosperity of both our people.

Q    Mr. Vice President, you spoke of terrorism and counterterrorism being obviously a very big part of the brief here.  Do you know — anything you can share about what’s happening in Kabul with the attack on the Intercon?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been briefed about the attack that’s taken place in Kabul.  We’ll be monitoring that.  And if we have more to say on that, we’ll say it at the next stop.

Q    Mr. President, did you talk about Syria?  Did you discuss with President Al Sisi the situation in Syria?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We spoke at great length about issues impacting the entire region.  I think President Al Sisi is very grateful for the efforts the United States has made and our armed forces have made in the region to confront ISIS and to defeat ISIS.  And we also talked about the need to work in close collaboration as we move forward, whether it be in Syria, whether it be in Libya, or other countries across the region.  And I assured him that we would be working very closely with our partner here in Egypt as we forge that future together.

Q    Mr. Vice President, as you know, there are more than two Americans being held in prison here in Egypt.  Did you press him on the others, as well?  And was he receptive?  And, obviously, there’s a lot more than Americans being imprisoned here over —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  President Al Sisi told me that he would give personal attention to the issue of detained Americans.  I mentioned two Americans in particular, but I also raised the broader issue of American citizens who are detained here in Egypt.  We’d like to see our people come home.  I made that clear to him.  And he assured me that he would give the matter his personal attention.

Q    Do you think that they were fairly detained?  Are you concerned about them being imprisoned in the first place?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, in the case of the two individuals that I mentioned, they were detained prior to when President Al Sisi took office.  They were detained in the midst of people being arrested in wider protests.  And we truly believe that justice demands that those Americans be permitted to come home.  And I made that case very strongly to President Al Sisi.

Q    Mr. Vice President, did you raise human rights issues, press freedom issues, or LGBT rights issues with the President?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We talked about the importance of respecting diversity in communities; the importance of respecting religious diversity in communities.  And encompassed in that is human rights of all the people of Egypt.

I must tell you that President Al Sisi said to me again that his dedication is to all of the people of Egypt.  And he has an aspiration to continue to move this country toward a greater respect for the rich diversity of all of its people.  And we encouraged him in that, and told him that the opportunity to build and strengthen the relationship with the people of the United States would be greatly enhanced as he continued to advance those reforms in this country.

Q    Mr. Vice President, can this trip advance Middle East peace if you’re not going to meet the Palestinian leader?

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  I’m truly honored to be able to be here in Egypt meeting with President Al Sisi, to meet with King Abdullah in Jordan tomorrow — two leaders in the Arab world — and then to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu when we arrive in Israel.

And my message to each of them is that we are partners, we are strategic partners; that nothing has changed; and that we are absolutely committed to building a partnership for security, confronting terrorism together, but also finding ways that we can advance the peace process.

And I hope that my message here, with President Al Sisi, and in Jordan tomorrow and in Israel, will make it clear that while the American people and the American President have stated that we recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, that we are ready now to move forward to resolve longstanding issues and finally bring this decades-old conflict to an end.