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March 26, 2015 / 6 Nisan, 5775
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Statements by PM Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense Hagel

Chuck Hagel and Bibi Netanyahu

Photo Credit: GPO

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Mr. Secretary, Chuck, welcome to Jerusalem. I’d like to express my deep appreciation, and that of the people of Israel, for the close defense and intelligence relationship and cooperation between Israel and the United States. We’re also deeply grateful for your steadfast support for Israel’s security, and most especially for the missile defense cooperation. It’s been a remarkable partnership and we very much appreciate your support for Iron Dome, recently expanded as well, for the support for David’s Sling, for the Arrow 3 missile, for the joint exercise that you visited yesterday for missile defense. This is deeply appreciated, and we’re deeply grateful for you.

Obviously we’re going to discuss many subjects, but foremost I think is the danger posed to both our countries and to the peace of the world by Iran’s pursuit of developing nuclear weapons. We’ve been saying all along that Iran is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community, so I wasn’t surprised and I’m sure you weren’t surprised by the recent UN report on Iran’s ongoing efforts to deceive the international community, to continue to develop its ICBMs and to continually violate its commitments of Security Council stipulations on forbidding it to develop certain parts of its nuclear program. They continue to do that, and I think that requires very clear and firm policy on the part of the world powers, the P5+1, and I think as the talks with Iran continue, one thing must guide the international community, and that is we must not let the Ayatollahs win. We must not let the foremost terrorist state of our time, Iran, develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

You come here in turbulent times, I wish it were less turbulent. One of the things we have found unfortunately is that our Palestinian neighbors are moving ahead in a pact with Hamas. The United States has designated Hamas rightly as at terrorist organization, and obviously the Palestinians cannot have a pact with Hamas and peace with Israel. We’re concerned too that in both Gaza and in the PA-controlled areas, there is continual incitement and propaganda against the very existence of the Jewish state. A recent ADL study, published a few days ago, talks about the fact that in both places, anti-Semitic incitement is the most troubling on the planet, and that is something that I think hinders peace. I think the Palestinians have to make a simple choice, a pact with Hamas or peace with Israel, but they can’t have both.

There are many other things that we are going to discuss – how to advance genuine peace and how to advance solid security in a region that is so fraught with instability and insecurity, and I think that one of the things that creates an anchor of security is the close relationship between Israel and the United States, a relationship that is based both on values and a common determination to uphold our joint security. So in that spirit I look forward to our discussions and I welcome you to Jerusalem.

Defense Secretary Hagel:

Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you. Bibi, I am grateful for the opportunity to see you again and renew our friendship. As you said in the United States earlier this year, American support for Israel is at an all-time high, and it is, and that applies especially to our defense relationship. Our defense relationship is strong, as we both know and I think the people of Israel and the United States know. It’s strong because it’s about a lot more than defense. The United States’ support for Israel is anchored in our nation’s commitment to democracy and freedom and rights for our people. America’s commitment to Israel’s security is resolute, and as you noted, the military exercise that I visited yesterday with Defense Minister Ya’alon demonstrates that commitment very completely. It also demonstrates the cutting edge work our countries are doing together on rocket and missile defense, and I appreciate your comments on that point – work that has strengthened Israel’s security and saved lives, and I want to assure you, Prime Minister and the people of Israel, of the United States’ continued commitment to ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, as President Obama has said, and that America will do what we must to live up to that commitment.

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