Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump at White House joint briefing on Feb. 15 2017

Following are the remarks delivered by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday at the White House joint news briefing together with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP AND PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU OF ISRAEL IN JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE [As prepared by White House stenographer in real time]

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(*Full Text of PM Netanyahu’s remarks may be accessed here.)

East Room 12:15 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Today I have the honor of welcoming my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to the White House. With this visit, the United States again reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel. The partnership between our two countries built on our shared values has advanced the cause of human freedom, dignity and peace. These are the building blocks of democracy.

The state of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression — I can think of no other state that’s gone through what they’ve gone — and of survival in the face of genocide. We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured.

Your perseverance in the face of hostility, your open democracy in the face of violence, and your success in the face of tall odds is truly inspirational. The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing — I mean ever — a nuclear weapon.

Our security assistance to Israel is currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats of which there are unfortunately many. Both of our countries will continue and grow. We have a long history of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against those who do not value human life. America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.

This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations — just treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly — or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel. Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability. That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States will encourage a peace and, really, a great peace deal. We’ll be working on it very, very diligently. Very important to me also — something we want to do. But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement. We’ll be beside them; we’ll be working with them.

As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right? (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Both sides.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want the Israeli people to know that the United States stands with Israel in the struggle against terrorism. As you know, Mr. Prime Minister, our two nations will always condemn terrorist acts. Peace requires nations to uphold the dignity of human life and to be a voice for all of those who are endangered and forgotten.

Those are the ideals to which we all, and will always, aspire and commit. This will be the first of many productive meetings. And I, again, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for being with us today.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  Again, thank you.


***** QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FROM THE MEDIA *****

We’ll take a couple of questions. David Brody, Christian Broadcasting. David.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister. Both of you have criticized the Iran nuclear deal, and at times even called for its repeal. I’m wondering if you’re concerned at all as it relates to not just the National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who is recently no longer here, but also some of those events that have been going on with communication in Russia — if that is going to hamper this deal at all, and whether or not it would keep Iran from becoming a nuclear state.

And secondly, on the settlement issue, are you both on the same page? How do you exactly term that as it relates to the settlement issue? Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media — as I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly. I think, in addition to that, from intelligence — papers are being leaked, things are being leaked. It’s criminal actions, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time — before me. But now it’s really going on, and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.

I think it’s very, very unfair what’s happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally — I stress that — illegally leaked. Very, very unfair.

As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out. But I would like to see a deal be made. I think a deal will be made. I know that every President would like to. Most of them have not started until late because they never thought it was possible. And it wasn’t possible because they didn’t do it.

But Bibi and I have known each other a long time — a smart man, great negotiator. And I think we’re going to make a deal. It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand. That’s a possibility. So let’s see what we do.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Let’s try it.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Doesn’t sound too optimistic, but — (laughter) — he’s a good negotiator.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: That’s the “art of the deal.” (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I also want to thank — I also want to thank — Sara, could you please stand up? You’re so lovely and you’ve been so nice to Melania. I appreciate it very much. (Applause.) Thank you.

Your turn.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Yes, please. Go ahead.

Q: Thank you very much. Mr. President, in your vision for the new Middle East peace, are you ready to give up the notion of two-state solution that was adopted by previous administration? And will you be willing to hear different ideas from the Prime Minister, as some of his partners are asking him to do, for example, annexation of parts of the West Bank and unrestricted settlement constructions? And one more question: Are you going to fulfill your promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem? And if so, when?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, did you come here tonight to tell the President that you’re backing off the two-state solution?

Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. (Laughter.) I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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