Washington Convention Center
6:35 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Dr. Fridman, my friend, Howard Kohr, to Ambassador David Friedman — (applause) — members of the United States Congress, Israeli ministers, members of the Knesset, distinguished guests. To all who have come, from near and far, it is great to be back at AIPAC — the largest and most influential gathering of the friends of Israel in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And tonight, I bring greetings from a friend of mine and a great friend to the State of Israel, the most pro-life President — the most pro-Israel President in American history, the 45th President of the United States of America. I bring greetings from President Donald Trump. (Applause.) Let’s hear it.
You know, thanks to the President’s leadership, the alliance between America and Israel has never been stronger. The friendship between our peoples has never been deeper. And I stand before you today on his behalf to convey a simple message: America stands with Israel, today, tomorrow, and always. (Applause.)
During his historic visit to Jerusalem, President Trump declared that the bond between our peoples are, quote, in his words, “woven together in the hearts of both nations,” and so it is.
We stand with Israel because that’s what the American people have always done. The people of the United States have always had a special affection and admiration for the people of the Book. We stand with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, in liberty over tyranny.
When I stood before you last March, I told you that President Trump would keep the promises that he made to all of you and to our most cherished ally, and so he has. (Applause.) President Trump promised to ensure that Israel would have the resources and tools to defend itself, by itself. And today, American support for the security of the State of Israel is greater than ever before. (Applause.)
The President promised to take the fight to radical Islamic terrorists on our terms, on their soil. And thanks to the courage of our armed forces, and the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, ISIS is on the run, their caliphate has crumbled, and we will not relent until we drive this menace from the face of the Earth. (Applause.)
He promised to stand up to the leading state sponsor of terror. President Trump announced in October of last year the United States of America will no longer certify the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. (Applause.)
And President Trump promised to stand up for the State of Israel and against anti-Semitism on the world stage. And with Ambassador Nikki Haley on the job, the days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over. (Applause.)
And while every President for the past two decades promised to recognize the capital of Israel, President Trump did more than promise. He delivered. (Applause.) And it was my great honor in January of this year to be the first Vice President of the United States to address the Knesset in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. (Applause.)
As the President said, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in his words, “We finally acknowledge the obvious.” The State of Israel is called Jerusalem, the seat of its government since its rebirth, 70 years ago.
You know, the United States of America was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize the State of Israel in 1948. And just as Harry Truman made history, President Trump will make history again, when, thanks to the strong efforts of Ambassador Friedman, in May of this year we will open the American Embassy in Jerusalem. (Applause.)
Now, President Trump made his decision, as he said, “in the best interests of the United States.” But he also made it clear that we believe this decision is also 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. (Applause.)
Under President Trump, the United States remains fully committed to achieve a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In announcing his decision on Jerusalem, the President also called, in his words, “on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s Holy Sites.” And he made it clear that we were not taking any position on final status issues, or specific boundaries, or the resolution of contested borders. And as the President reaffirmed, if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution. (Applause.)
As we gather here, our team — Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and our great Ambassador are hard at work crafting our administration’s vision for peace. And while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, know this: The United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel. (Applause.)
Now, we know that peace is possible because history records that Israel has made the very difficult decisions to achieve peace with its neighbors in the past. Over just the last few months, I have had the privilege also to travel to Egypt and Jordan, two nations with whom Israel has long enjoyed the fruits of peace. I spoke with America’s great friends, President Al Sisi of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan, about the courage of their predecessors who forged an end to conflict with Israel in their time.
Last year, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump convened an unprecedented gathering of leaders from more than 50 nations at the Arab Islamic American Summit. As we saw there, the winds of change are blowing across the Middle East. Longstanding enemies are becoming partners, old foes are finding new ground for cooperation, and the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael are coming together in common cause to meet, as the President said, “history’s great test” and “conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.” And we will meet that test together. (Applause.)
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. And together with our allies, we will continue to bring the full force of our might to confront and defeat this enemy in our time. (Applause.)
As I said, we’ve made great progress in the fight against ISIS. We’ve liberated nearly all the territory once held by those barbarians, and we have beaten them on the battlefield time and again. But as the enemy retreats, we must be vigilant. We must be vigilant to prevent others from taking its place. And let me assure you tonight: We will not allow the defeat of ISIS to become a victory for Iran. (Applause.)
Iran hopes to recreate the ancient Persian Empire under the modern dictatorship of the ayatollahs. As we speak, that regime seeks to carve out a corridor of influence running through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, creating an unbroken passage for its armies and its ideology. Last year alone, Iran spent more than $4 billion to achieve its ends. And at this very hour, it aids and abets terrorist groups that sit on Israel’s doorstep and fire rockets at her people.
In just the past month, the mounting Iranian menace has been laid bare for all to see. The Iranian drone that breached Israel’s borders in February was a brazen act of aggression. But Israel’s swift and strong response sent a warning to Iran across the region that dangerous provocations will not go unchecked by Israel, America, or our allies. (Applause.)
But the danger posed by Iran extends much further than its support of terrorism. As we all know, that regime continues to develop advanced ballistic missiles that can threaten every square inch of Israeli soil and the lives of all her citizens. And the disastrous nuclear deal signed by the last administration did not prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It merely delayed the day when that vile regime can gain access to the world’s most deadly weapons.
President Trump has called on the Congress and our European allies to enact real and lasting restraints on Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions. Earlier this year, the President waived sanctions to give our lawmakers and our allies time to act.
But make no mistake about it: This is their last chance. (Applause.) Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States of America will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately. (Applause.)
Whatever the outcome of those discussions, today I have a solemn promise to you, to Israel, and to the wider world: The United States of America will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
For 70 years, Israel has overcome every challenge it’s faced. And in this year of celebration, as we commemorate that miracle of history, I say with confidence that the Jewish State, and the Jewish people, will continue to inspire and awe the world for generations to come.
Indeed, how unlikely was Israel’s rebirth? How more unlikely has been her survival and prosperity? And how confounding, and against all odds, has been her thriving?
The Jewish people have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health. They’ve turned hope into a future of security and prosperity. The tiny people in a tiny land, a land with no natural resources, no rushing rivers or verdant valleys. A nation that, despite not knowing a single day of true peace, has in two short generations become one of the world’s most vibrant and successful nations is a marvel to the world. (Applause.)
Today, Israel is a world leader in science and technology. That couldn’t have happened without America’s help. And now America’s great and long investment in the State of Israel is paying real dividends for our people and for the world at large. (Applause.)
Israel might be one of the smallest countries in the world, but it has one of the biggest footprints. Thanks to Israel’s Nobel Prize-winning scientists, discoveries and innovations can be found in America’s hospitals, our doctors’ offices, our grocery stores. Israeli innovation is on our microprocessors, flash drives, smartphones, and so much more. In 70 years, Israel has transformed itself into a fountainhead of innovation and entrepreneurship, producing astounding technological advances in nearly all fields of human endeavor.
In a word, Israel is like a tree that has grown deep roots in the soil of its forefathers, yet, as it grows, reaches ever closer to the heavens. It gives shade and sustenance to all who seek shelter under it. A living testament to the power of freedom and the power of faith. (Applause.)
Because the story of Israel is a story of faith. 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 will gather you and bring you back…to the land which your fathers possessed.” (Applause.)
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 ancient promise. And they held on to it through the longest and darkest of nights. A night Elie Wiesel proclaimed as “seven times sealed.” A night that transformed the small faces of children into smoke under a silent sky. A night that consumed the faith of so many and that challenges the faith of so many still.
To this day, we grieve the loss of 6 million martyrs of the Holocaust. And to this day, we marvel at the faith and resilience of a sacred and broken people, once scattered, who just three years after walking through the valley of the shadow of death, rose up to reclaim a Jewish future and rebuild a Jewish state. (Applause.)
And in this 70th anniversary year of Israel’s rebirth, I say again, along with Jewish people everywhere, “Thanks to the Lord, our God…who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this day.” Shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh. (Applause.)
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, tonight, I close with faith. Faith in the good people of Israel and America, and in the immutable bonds of friendship between us. Faith in the alliance between our nations, nurtured by President Trump and leaders throughout the Congress in both parties that have ensured this alliance is stronger now than ever before. And faith in God that He will yet forge a brighter future where each can sit “under their own vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid” in the Promised Land. (Applause.)
With the unwavering support of all of you, and all who call these two great nations home, with the leadership of President Donald Trump and with God’s help, I say with confidence, the best days for Israel and the United States of America are yet to come. (Applause.)
God bless you. God bless Israel. And God Bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
6:54 P.M. EST