This is an abridged transcript of Vice President Mike Pence’s Knesset speech on Monday.
It is deeply humbling for me to stand before this vibrant democracy to have the great honor to address this Knesset, the first vice president of the United States to be afforded that privilege here in Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel. And I bring greetings from a leader who has done more to bring our two great countries closer together than any president in the past 70 years — the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.
Thanks to the president’s leadership, the alliance between our two countries has never been stronger, and the friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I am here to convey a simple message from the heart of the American people: America stands with Israel.
We stand with Israel because your cause is our cause, your values are our values, and your fight is our fight.
We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.
We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done, and so has it been since my country’s earliest days. …
America’s first president, George Washington, wrote with favor to “the children of the stock of Abraham.” Our second president, John Adams, declared that the Jews, in his words, “have done more to civilize man than any other nation.” And your story inspired my forebears to create what our 16th president called a “new birth of freedom.” And down through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people’s aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers to claim your own new birth of freedom in your beloved homeland.
The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that “even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,” from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed. Through a 2,000-year exile, the longest of any people, anywhere, through conquests and expulsions, inquisitions and pogroms, the Jewish people held on to this promise, and they held on to it through the longest and darkest of nights. …
And this April … the state of Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its birth. As you prepare to commemorate this historic milestone, I say, along with the good people of Israel, here and around the world: Shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh.
Seventy years ago, the United States was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize the state of Israel. But as you well know, the work we began on that day was left unfinished, for while the United States recognized your nation, one administration after another refused to recognize your capital. But just last month, President Donald Trump made history. He righted a 70-year wrong; he kept his word to the American people when he announced that the United States of America will finally acknowledge Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
The Jewish people’s unbreakable bond to this sacred city reaches back more than 3,000 years. It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in G-d. It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern state of Israel has called this city the seat of its government.
Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. And, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and that United States Embassy will open before the end of next year.
Our president made his decision, in his words, “in the best interests of the United States.” But he also made it clear that we believe that his decision is in the best interests of peace. By finally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has chosen fact over fiction. And fact is the only true foundation for a just and lasting peace. …
The United States appreciates your government’s declared willingness to resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. And today, we strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table. Peace can only come through dialogue.
Now, we recognize that peace will require compromise, but you can be confident in this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the state of Israel. Any peace agreement must guarantee Israel’s ability to defend itself by itself. …
Last year, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump addressed an unprecedented gathering of leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. He challenged the people of this region to work ever closer together, to recognize shared opportunities and to confront shared challenges. And the president urged all who call the Middle East their home to, in his words, “meet history’s great test — [and] conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism together.”
Radical Islamic terrorism knows no borders — targeting America, Israel, nations across the Middle East, and the wider world. It respects no creed — stealing the lives of Jews, Christians, and especially Muslims. And radical Islamic terrorism understands no reality other than brute force. Together with our allies, we will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the Earth. …
As we work to defeat the scourge of terrorism, and give aid to those who have suffered at its hands, we must also be resolved and vigilant to prevent old adversaries from gaining any new ground. To that end, the United States will continue to work with Israel, and with nations across the world, to confront the leading state sponsor of terror — the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As the world has seen once again, the brutal regime in Iran is merely a brutal dictatorship that seeks to dominate its citizens and deny them of their most fundamental rights. History has proven, those who dominate their own people rarely stop there. And increasingly, we see Iran seeking to dominate the wider Arab world.
That dangerous regime sows chaos across the region. Last year alone, even as its citizens cried out for help with basic necessities, Iran devoted more than $4 billion to malign activities in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere across the region. It has supported terrorist groups that even now sit on Israel’s doorstep. And worst of all, the Iranian regime has pursued a clandestine nuclear program, and at this very hour is developing advanced ballistic missiles.
Two-and-a-half years ago, the previous administration in America signed a deal with Iran that merely delays the day when that regime can acquire a nuclear weapon. The Iran nuclear deal is a disaster, and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement. At President Trump’s direction, we’re working to enact effective and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Earlier this month, the president waived sanctions on Iran to give the Congress and our European allies time to pass stronger measures. But as President Trump made clear, this is the last time.
Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump has said the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.
Whatever the outcome of those negotiations, today I have a solemn promise to Israel, to all the Middle East, and to the world: The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. Beyond the nuclear deal, we will also no longer tolerate Iran’s support of terrorism, or its brutal attempts to suppress its own people. …
While at times it may seem hard to see, those who call the Middle East their home have more that unites them than divides them — not only in common threats, but in the common hope for a future of security and prosperity and peace, and in the common ancestry of faith that runs throughout these very lands.
Nearly 4,000 years ago, a man left his home in Ur of the Chaldeans to travel here, to Israel. He ruled no empire, he wore no crown, he commanded no armies, he performed no miracles, delivered no prophecies, yet to him was promised “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky.”
Today, Jews, Christians, and Muslims — more than half the population of the Earth, and nearly all the people of the Middle East — claim Abraham as their forefather in faith. Only steps from here, in the Old City of Jerusalem, we see the followers of these three great religions in constant contact with one another. And we see each faith come to life in new and renewed ways every day.
At the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we see a Christian child receiving the gift of grace, in baptism. At the Western Wall, we see a young Jewish boy being bar-mitzvahed. And at the Haram al-Sharif, we see young Muslims, heads bowed in prayer. In Jerusalem, we see all this and more. And so today, as I stand in Abraham’s “Promised Land,” I believe that all who cherish freedom, and seek a brighter future, should cast their eyes here to this place and marvel at what they behold.
How unlikely was Israel’s birth; how more unlikely has been her survival. And how confounding, and against the odds, has been her thriving. You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future. … Every day, the Jewish state of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to G-d’s faithfulness, as well as your own.
It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again.
The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world. And the United States of America is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends.
And so we will “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,”that “those who love you be secure,” that “there be peace within your walls, and security in your citadels.” And 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.”
With an unshakeable bond between our people, and our shared commitment to freedom, I say from my heart: May G-d bless the Jewish people, may G-d bless the state of Israel and all who call these lands their home, and may G-d continue to bless the United States of America.