Trump “righted a 70-year wrong” by acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Pence said, adding that the US Embassy will move there by the end of 2019, ahead of schedule.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Vice President Mike Pence on Monday addressed the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, affirming the US’ support for the Jewish state, for Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and for Israel’s security.
In a history-laden and bible-infused keynote speech, Pence stated, “I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: The American people stand with Israel.”
“We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values… we stand with Israel because we believe in good over evil, in liberty over tyranny,” he stated.
“John Adams said the Jews have done more to civilize man than any other civilization,” Pence said. “Through the generations the American people became fierce advocates for the Jewish aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers.”
“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,” he declared.
Pence told the Knesset that when he visits Yad Vashem on Tuesday with his wife, they will “marvel at the faith and resilience” of the Jewish people, who rose up three years after the Holocaust to establish the State of Israel.
Pence then recited the “Shehechiyanu” blessing in Hebrew, a Jewish prayer recited to celebrate special and joyous occasions, eliciting a standing ovation from the Jewish-majority parliament.
He said the US is proud to have been the first country to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. President Donald Trump, he said, “righted a 70-year wrong” by acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Pence said that the US will open its embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2019, ahead of schedule.
‘Peace Can Only Come Through Dialogue’
Pence “strongly” urged the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, saying “peace can only come through dialogue.”
The Palestinians have angrily protested the US decision to recognize Jerusalem, saying the US cannot be trusted as a mediator. They also said they will reject any peace plan the Trump administration presents.
Pence told the Knesset that Israel “can be confident” that “the United States will never compromise the safety and security of the state of Israel,” adding that any peace agreement with the Palestinians “must guarantee Israel’s ability to defend itself, by itself.”
He noted the “remarkable transformation that is taking place across the Middle East today.”
“Descendants of Isaac and Ishmael” are coming together in an unprecedented way, he said, possibly alluding to covert cooperation between Israel and Sunni Arab nations in the Middle East.
In that vein, Pence called the Iranian nuclear deal a “disaster” and said the Trump administration will no longer certify the “ill-conceived agreement.”
Instead, Pence said the administration is “committed to enacting effective and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
Pence vowed that if the deal is not fixed in the coming months, the US will “withdraw from the deal.”
He also pledged that the US will continue to work with Israel “to confront Iran, the leading state sponsor of terror” who “sows chaos across the region.”
“The United States will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Pence said. “We will also no longer tolerate Iran’s support for terrorism.”
A ‘Better Message’ for the Iranian People
Addressing the Iranian people directly, Pence said that he has a “better message” for them.
“From the people of America to the proud and great people of Iran: We are your friends,” he said, promising them their “day of liberation” is coming soon. Then “the friendship between our peoples will blossom once again,” he said.
“Today, as I stand in Abraham’s promised land, I believe that all who cherish freedom and want a better future” should look to Israel and “marvel at what they behold,” he stated.
“It was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made it strong again,” he said, adding that the US is proud to stand with the Jewish state. “And so we will pray for the peace of Jerusalem”
“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,” Pence concluded.
Repeated Standing Ovations
Pence received repeated standing ovations for his remarks.
Prior to Pence’s address, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked him for standing up for the “truth” and supporting Israel at the United Nations (UN).
Netanyahu stated that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital will go down as one of the most historic decisions in Israel’s chronicles.
Alternating between English and Hebrew, Netanyahu lauded the unbreakable alliance between the countries, saying they had a “shared destiny.”
“America has no greater friend than Israel, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States of America,” he declared.
As Pence began to speak, Arab lawmakers heckled him and brandished signs protesting the US recognition of Jerusalem, but were swiftly tossed from the chambers. The Arab party in the Israeli parliament had previously announced it would boycott Pence.
The Knesset, which is accustomed to such high-profile visits, had added a new layer of security, and besides the speaker and other dignitaries, lawmakers did not have direct access to Pence.
Sign the Declaration to Keep Jerusalem United
Jerusalem Must Remain the United Capital of Israel
I declare that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish People and support all efforts to maintain and strengthen a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel.