Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently met with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and both leaders addressed Iran and bilateral relations to the press after their meeting.
Netanyahu spoke first and thanked Pompeo for his visit to Israel.
“This is your first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. I think it’s significant that you chose, as did the President, to include Israel on this important itinerary. I think it’s symbolic of our friendship, which is deep and getting even deeper and stronger.”
The prime minister said, “We’ve just had very productive, very focused conversations on our common interests and how to defend our common values,” thanking again “President Trump for his historic decision on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I must tell you that the bold decision by President Trump has prompted other countries, quite a few now, who are planning to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well. It says something about American leadership and about the forthright way in which simple truths are being put forward, and the effect this has on the international scene,” referring to Romania, Honduras, Paraguay, Guatemala, and Czech.
Netanyahu then spoke of nuclear Iran, reiterating the threat it places on the globe, specifically Israel.
“I think the greatest threat to the world and to our two countries—and to all countries—is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and specifically the attempt of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. We’ve had a very productive talk today on this subject as well. I appreciate the President’s leadership and your position on stopping Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Specifically on Iran’s growth and advances in its missile and nuclear programs since the nuclear deal, the prime minister said Iran’s “aggression has grown many-fold since the signing of the Iranian deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened, and Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other. Iran must be stopped. Its quest for nuclear bombs must be stopped. Its aggression must be stopped, and we’re committed to stopping it together.”
He concluded: “I was very much encouraged once again by the steadfast support of the United States for Israel and for this common effort, which encompasses many other countries, as you know… But our bond is special. It’s based on shared values of democracy, freedom, the quest for security and peace. And I can say that today America and Israel are closer than ever before, and I have no doubt that our alliance will grow even closer in the years ahead.”
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said that it was “a great honor to be here on my first trip as Secretary of State. I’ve been the Secretary for a handful of hours, as I was saying earlier. I haven’t been to my office yet. As you said, this relationship’s never been stronger, and I think we should both be proud of that. We had fantastic conversations today on difficult issues facing each of us.”
On the U.S. Embassy relocation scheduled for May 14th, Pompeo said, “This step comes as Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary of independence, and 70 years of recognition and steadfast support for Israel from the American people as well. By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality.”
He reiterated President Trump’s sentiments that the “the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.”
Pompeo then addressed Iran, echoing the prime minister.
“Strong cooperation with close allies like you is critical to our efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing and malign activity throughout the Middle East, and indeed throughout the world. We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran’s ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel’s sovereign right to defend itself.”
He added that “we are also working to counter the broad set of non-nuclear threats: Iran’s missile systems, its support for Hezbollah, the importation of thousands of proxy fighters into Syria and its assistance to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. We look forward to working closely with strong allies like Israel in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence.”
Specifically on Syria, Pompeo referred to the “barbaric Assad regime is propped up by Iran”, citing the United States’ top priorities as the “defeat [of] ISIS, deescalate violence, deter the use of chemical weapons and ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and support an ultimate political resolution to the conflict.”
At the end, he said the U.S. and Israel “I know, together can achieve that.”
Amir Tsarfati, a Jewish Christian, is the founder and president of Behold Israel, a news site to correct the scarcity in trustworthy reportage on issues and events impacting Israel, and to resolve the uncertainty about who or what to believe.