The Embassy of Israel to the United States
Washington, D.C.

7:20 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, members of the Cabinet, members of Congress, all of tonight’s honorees, and to all of you who’ve come from near and far.  It is deeply humbling for me to stand here tonight with all of you on this extraordinary day as we celebrate 70 years of Israel’s independence.  (Applause.)

And I bring greetings and congratulations from a leader who has done more to bring our two countries closer together in a year than any President in the past 70 years.  I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

And, Mr. Ambassador, it is my distinct honor to accept this unique recognition, from the State of Israel, for President Donald Trump, a man who I believe is the greatest defender the Jewish State has ever had sitting in the Oval Office.  (Applause.)

I know the President is honored by this expression of the high esteem and great affection of the people of Israel.  And I’ll make sure that medal is on his desk first thing in the morning.

The President asked me to be here tonight because, as you are all no doubt aware, earlier today, the First Lady underwent a long-planned medical procedure.  And I’m pleased to report the procedure was a success and Melania is already on the mend.  (Applause.)

And I know I speak for people everywhere when I say Mrs. Trump is on our hearts, we’re praying for her speedy and full recovery, and look forward to her returning to her work making a difference in the lives of our nation’s children.

As people across the country and this world have come to appreciate, Melania Trump is a remarkable woman, and the United States of America is blessed to have her as our First Lady.  (Applause.)  So get well soon, Melania.

We gather here to celebrate nothing less than a miracle of history: the day when the Jewish people ended the longest exile of any people, anywhere, and reclaimed a Jewish future and rebuilt the Jewish State.

As we look at Israel today, it is extraordinary to behold all the progress she’s made and the example she sets.  The truth is, today, the modern State of Israel is not just 70 years old; Israel is 70 years strong.  And the world marvels at her strength.  (Applause.)

The United States of America was proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize the State of Israel seven decades ago.

And just as President Truman made history then, President Trump made history now.  And thanks to the President’s leadership, almost exactly 70 years to the minute from the rebirth of the Jewish State, the American Embassy officially opened in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel, today.  (Applause.)

It was just over five months ago, on December 6, our President officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  And it was my honor to stand with him on the day that he made that announcement to the world.  Today, that recognition became concrete reality.

From King David’s time to our own, President Trump has now etched his name into the ineffaceable story of Jerusalem.  And as the President said just this morning, today is nothing less than a great day for Israel.  (Applause.)

And our administration was proud to send a remarkable delegation to mark this milestone — a delegation of 250 leaders in Congress; leaders from our administration; the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump; and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

And to Jared, who’s on his way home as we speak after an unforgettable day, let me just say: Jared, your moving remarks this morning will stand forever as a testament, not just to our country and the Jewish people, but to you and your family.  (Applause.)

And as Jared said this morning, so I say now, what the world saw in high relief today is, when President Donald Trump makes a promise, he keeps it.  (Applause.)

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.  And as President Trump made clear this morning, “Our greatest hope is for peace.”

And as Jared also said, the United States of America “is prepared to support a peace agreement in every way [that] we can.”  We believe that peace “is possible for both sides to gain more than they give, so that all people can live in peace, safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams.”

Jerusalem is a city whose very name means peace.  And as for me and my family, and for millions around the globe, we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that “those who love her be secure,” that “there be peace within [her] walls, and security within [her] citadels.”  And we will keep praying that until peace finally comes to Jerusalem.  (Applause.)

And while any peace will undoubtedly require compromise, you can know with confidence: Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America will never compromise the safety and security of the State of Israel.  (Applause.)

Since Israel’s rebirth, 70 years ago today, there has hardly been a day when the people of Israel have not lived — or have lived without war, or the fear of war, or the grim reality of terror.

The United States and Israel have long stood together to confront the evil scourge of radical Islamic terrorism.  And today, we renew our pledge to stand shoulder to shoulder as we drive that menace from the face of this Earth.

As we demonstrated last week, the United States is once again leading the free world in standing up to the leading state sponsor of terror when President Trump withdrew America from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.  (Applause.)

As the President said just a few days ago, the Iran deal, in his words, “didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”  In fact, Iran’s unprecedented missile attacks on Israel last week only confirmed the President’s decision.  And this dangerous act of aggression only strengthened our resolve.

And so, today, let me assure you all the United States of America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.  (Applause.)  That is our solemn promise to Israel and the world.

For 70 years, we’ve marveled at all the Jewish State and the Jewish people have endured and accomplished.  How unlikely was Israel’s birth.  How more unlikely has been her survival.  And how confounding, against the odds, both past and present, has been her thriving.  In 70 short years, Israel has become one of the freest, strongest, and most prosperous nations on Earth.

Its booming, hi-tech, start-up nation has turned Israel into a global economic powerhouse that has benefitted the whole world with untold innovations in agriculture, medicine, information, nanotechnology, and so many other areas of human endeavor.

The citizens of Israel have awed the world with the strength of their will, the nobility of their character, and the steadfastness of their faith.

They have, in a very real sense, over the past 70 years, turned the desert into a garden, sickness into health, scarcity into plenty, and despair into hope.

And what has been true for the past 70 years I know will be true for the next.  One unalterable truth stands in evidence at this gathering and all across the world: As it has been in the past, so it shall be in the future: America stands with Israel.  (Applause.)

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, and good over evil, and liberty over tyranny.  We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done.  For in the story of Israel, we see the power of faith, and the promise of hope.

Today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to God’s faithfulness, as well as their own.  And on this 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth, I say again, along with the Jewish people everywhere: Shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu la’z’man ha’zeh.  (Applause.)

So thank you for giving me the honor of sharing this evening with you, and accepting this well-deserved recognition from the State of Israel for President Donald Trump.  And on behalf of the President and all the American people, on this big day for Israel, we say, Mazel Tov.  (Applause.)

It’s a day of celebration, so I’ll let you get back to it.  And I’ll leave here today absolutely confident with the unwavering support of all of you, the American people, and all who cherish the U.S.-Israel relationship, with the leadership of President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, I know Israel will go from strength to strength.  Her first 70 years will just be a glimpse of what’s to come, and the United States and Israel will meet our glorious future together.

God bless you.  God bless Israel.  And God Bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END

7:32 P.M. EDT