Photo Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at news briefing in Jerusalem Monday evening Jan. 22 2018

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara welcomed Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen to the official residence in Jerusalem on Monday evening after a day in which Israeli lawmakers gave repeated standing ovations to Pence during his historic speech to the Knesset – all except 13 M K s from the Joint Arab List faction who were rapidly escorted from the Knesset plenum after attempting to disrupt the address.

Both Netanyahu and Pence met with reporters in a joint news briefing prior to sitting down for dinner at the residence.

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The prime minister again thanked President Trump and Pence 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,” Netanyahu said. “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,” he said.

Netanyahu noted that he and Pence spoke about the challenges in the region, the foremost being Iran. “The tyrants of Tehran have spent billions of dollars spreading murder and mayhem throughout the Middle East to advance their poisonous ideology,” he said.

Taking a swipe at Europe, the prime minister praised the Trump administration 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,” he said.

“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.”

Netanyahu added that “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.”

Netanyahu said that he and Pence also spoke about opportunities for advancing peace, both in the region and between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“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,” he said.

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

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