Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Mike Pence with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Jan 23 2020

US Vice President Mike Pence arrived Thursday in Israel just in time to participate in the main ceremony of the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, followed by a visit to the Western Wall with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and then a meeting at the US Embassy.

During the vice president’s visit to the Western Wall, he and the prime minister were greeted by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites; also there to greet him was Mordechai Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and Israeli National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat.

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In the Guest Book at the Western Wall, the prime minister and the vice president wrote that they are praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

But the topic that remained at the top of the agenda, and which headed the discussions as soon as they reached their seats at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, was Iran, followed in a close second by a message from President Donald Trump, inviting the prime minister to the White House to discuss the Trump “Deal of the Century.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Mike Pence at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Jan. 23 2020

In a statement following their meeting, Netanyahu thanked Pence, praised him and President Donald Trump for their “firm, moral stance . . . in standing against the worst manifestation of antisemitism – and that is the call of Iran to wipe out the six million and more Jews of Israel.”

Netanyahu poured on praise for Pence coming to Israel, for his words, and for what the Trump administration “is doing every single day on behalf of Israel’s security.

“We’ve had no better friend than President Trump,” he said. “That friendship is expressed in the fact that we’re in the American Embassy in Jerusalem, that Jerusalem was recognized by President Trump as Israel’s capital, that President Trump has recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and now, with this invitation, I think that the president is seeking to give Israel peace and security, the peace and security that it deserves.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Mike Pence at the US Embassy in Jerusalem, Jan. 23 2020

So, I gladly accept your invitation, his invitation to come to Washington and discuss with him his ideas on how to advance peace and to work closely with him to advance that goal.

I suggested that Benny Gantz be invited to this event as well, because I think that it’s important that we do not lose this historic opportunity,” Netanyahu added.

“With such friends in the White House, with such backing from the United States, we should get as broad a consensus as possible around the efforts to achieve security and peace. . . I look forward to doing both, and I thank you again for your extraordinary friendship. Thank you.”

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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.