U.S. Department Of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
March 20, 2019
David Citadel Hotel
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. You know that Israel has no greater friend than the United States of America. The Israeli people can have confidence that President Trump will maintain this close bond. I know that you and the President have an outstanding working relationship. He sent me here to build upon that and to represent him here. Israel has a special place in my heart as well. My very first trip as Secretary of State included a visit here. I’m proud to be here again not only as America’s top diplomat, but also as a man of faith that is always newly inspired when I get the chance to travel to Israel.
Now to the business at hand. In just a few minutes, the prime minister and I will participate in a meeting with Greece and Cyprus to promote energy security and diversification in the Eastern Med. I will also discuss our efforts to counter Iran, Russia, and China. We had a chance to talk about those a few minutes ago as well.
This meeting is part of our effort to continue to build out the regional alliances. Last month, representatives of more than 60 countries met in Warsaw and had a historic conference, which the prime minister attended. Arab and Israeli leaders discussed ways to end the war in Yemen, to manage refugee crises, to confront radical Islamic terrorism, and to stop Iran’s regional rampage. We’re working to build the Middle East Strategic Alliance and to enhance cooperation on economic, energy, and security matters.
It’s fundamentally our view that this region needs a candid dialogue and open exchanges of ideas, especially as we seek to make progress towards a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt recently met with regional leaders to find ways to provide economic opportunity for those regions.
I know today that at sundown, right about now, the Jewish people will begin the celebration of Purim, a commemoration of when Queen Esther saved the Jewish people from destruction centuries ago. I wish the prime minister and all who are celebrating a happy Purim.
Of course, I remember when he addressed the joint session of Congress right before Purim. I was there sitting in the auditorium almost exactly four years ago. On that day, you spoke about the grave threat that the Jewish people face, the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which seeks the absolute destruction and annihilation of Israel. The ayatollahs have spent four decades spewing hatred, supporting terrorist violence, and pursuing nuclear weapons for a war against a neighbor that wishes nothing more than to live in peace. The ayatollah has declared that the annihilation and destruction of Israel is his primary goal.
With such threats, a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparalleled commitment to Israel’s security and firmly support your right to defend yourself. Under the 10-year MOU that we signed in 2016, we provide $3.8 billion annually for security assistance to Israel. And with Israel threatened by rockets and missiles from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere, we are proud to deploy the THAAD anti-missile batteries here.
The Trump administration, too, is dedicated to monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism. Our Special Envoy Elan Carr was recently here to discuss how we could deepen our commitment to battle this odious prejudice and all other forms of intolerance. With the dark wave of anti-Semitism rising in Europe and in the United States, all nations, especially those in the West, must go to the barricades against bigotry. Our challenge is especially urgent as the hot rhetoric of prejudice cloaks itself in the language of the academy or of diplomacy or public policy. Sadly, we in the United States have seen anti-Semitic language uttered even in the great halls of our own Capitol. This should not be.
Tomorrow, my wife Susan and I will take a full day of activities to get a deeper sense of Israel and its storied history. We’ll visit our new embassy in Jerusalem, which we were proud to open last year. I’m eager to see more of the timeless country, and I thank the prime minister and the people of Israel for what I know will be a productive and memorable visit. Thank you.