Full Text Political Transcripts May 23, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the Israel Museum

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the Israel Museum

Source: WH, 5-23-17

Jerusalem

2:28 P.M. IDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  It’s very nice.   And thank you to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  And I also want to thank Sara for hosting us last night in really a very unforgettable dinner.  We had a great time.  We talked about a lot of very, very important things.  And thank you to Ambassador David Friedman and Mrs. Friedman for joining us, along with a number of very good friends who have come from our country to yours, as we reaffirm the unshakable bond between the United States of America and Israel.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I’d like to begin my remarks today by sending the thoughts and prayers of the entire American people to the victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester.  You know — you’ve all been watching.  You’ve seen just a horrible thing going on.  I want to send our condolences to the many families who lost their loved ones.  Horrific, horrific injuries.  Terrible.  Dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity.  I repeat again that we must drive out the terrorists and the extremists from our midst, obliterate this evil ideology, and protect and defend our citizens and people of the world.  (Applause.)

All civilized nations much be united in this effort.  This trip is focused on that goal:  bringing nations together around the goal of defeating the terrorism that threatens the world, and crushing the hateful ideology that drives it so hard and seems to be driving it so fast.

It is a privilege to stand here in this national museum, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, to address the Israeli people and all people in the Middle East who yearn for security, prosperity and peace.

Jerusalem is a sacred city.  Its beauty, splendor, and heritage are like no other place on Earth.  (Applause.)  What a heritage.  What a heritage.  The ties of the Jewish people to this Holy Land are ancient and eternal.  (Applause.)  They date back thousands of years, including the reign of King David whose star now flies proudly on Israel’s white and blue flag.

Yesterday, I visited the Western Wall, and marveled at the monument to God’s presence and man’s perseverance.  I was humbled to place my hand upon the wall and to pray in that holy space for wisdom from God.  I also visited and prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a site revered by Christians throughout the world.  I laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, honoring, remembering, and mourning the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.  I pledged right then and there what I pledge again today:  the words “never again.”  (Applause.)

Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.  From all parts of this great country, one message resounds, and that is the message of hope.  Down through the ages, the Jewish people have suffered persecution, oppression, and even those who have sought their destruction.  But, through it all, they have endured and, in fact, they have thrived.  I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the Jewish people, and I make this promise to you:  My administration will always stand with Israel.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

Through your hardships, you have created one of the most abundant lands anywhere in the world — a land that is rich not only in history, culture, and opportunity, but especially in spirit.  This museum where we are gathered today tells the story of that spirit.  From the two Holy Temples, to the glorious heights of Masada, we see an incredible story of faith and perseverance.  That faith is what inspired Jews to believe in their destiny, to overcome their despair, and to build here — right here — a future that others dared not even to dream.

In Israel, not only are Jews free to till the soil, teach their children, and pray to God in the ancient land of their fathers — and they love this land, and they love God — but Muslims, Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience, and to follow their dreams, right here.

Today, gathered with friends, I call upon all people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and every faith, every tribe, every creed — to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls.

Earlier this week, I spoke at a very historic summit in Saudi Arabia.  I was hosted by King Salman — a very wise man.  There, I urged our friends in the Muslim world to join us in creating stability, safety and security.  And I was deeply encouraged by the desire of many leaders to join us in cooperation toward these shared and vital goals.

Conflict cannot continue forever.  The only question is when nations will decide that they have had enough — enough bloodshed, enough killing.  That historic summit represents a new opportunity for people throughout the Middle East to overcome sectarian and religious divisions, to extinguish the fires of extremism, and to find common ground and shared responsibility in making the future of this region so much better than it is right now.

Change must come from within.   It can only come from within.  No mother or father wants their children to grow up in a world where terrorists roam free, schoolchildren are murdered, and their loved ones are taken.  No child is born with prejudice in their heart.  No one should teach young boys and girls to hate and to kill.  No civilized nation can tolerate the massacre of innocents with chemical weapons.

My message to that summit was the same message I have for you:  We must build a coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremists and violence, and providing our children a peaceful and hopeful future.  But a hopeful future for children in the Middle East requires the world to fully recognize the vital role of the State of Israel.  (Applause.)  And, on behalf of the United States, we pledge to stand by you and defend our shared values so that together we can defeat terrorism and create safety for all of God’s children.  (Applause.)

Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence.  Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knives and bombs.  Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to the bomb shelters — with fear, but with speed.  ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues, and storefronts.  And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction.  Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  I like you too.  (Laughter.)

Despite these challenges, Israel is thriving as a sovereign nation, and no international body should question the contributions Israel makes to the region and, indeed, the world.  Today, let us pray for that peace and for a more hopeful future across the Middle East.

There are those who present a false choice.  They say that we must choose between supporting Israel and supporting Arab and Muslim nations in the region.  That is completely wrong.  All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism.  Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region.

My administration is committed to pursuing such a coalition, and we have already made substantial progress during this trip.  We know, for instance, that both Israelis and Palestinians seek lives of hope for their children.  And we know that peace is possible if we put aside the pain and disagreements of the past and commit together to finally resolving this crisis, which has dragged on for nearly half a century or more.

As I have repeatedly said, I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement, and I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace.  I know you’ve heard it before.  I am telling you — that’s what I do.  They are ready to reach for peace.

In my meeting with my very good friend, Benjamin, I can tell you also that he is reaching for peace.  He wants peace.  He loves people.  He especially loves the Israeli people.  Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace.

Making peace, however, will not be easy.  We all know that.  Both sides will face tough decisions.  But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.

But even as we work toward peace, we will build strength to defend our nations.  The United States is firmly committed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias.  (Applause.)  So we are telling you right now that Iran will not have nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)

America’s security partnership with Israel is stronger than ever.  Under my administration, you see the difference — big, big beautiful difference — (laughter and applause) — including the Iron Dome missile defense program, which has been keeping the Israeli people safe from short-range rockets launched by Hezbollah and Hamas, and David’s Sling, which guards against long range missiles.  It is my hope that someday, very soon, Israeli children will never need to rush towards shelters again as sirens ring out loud and clear.

Finally, the United States is proud that Israeli Air Force pilots are flying the incredible, new American F-35 planes.  (Applause.)  There is nothing in the world like them to defend their nation, and it was wonderful to see these mighty aircraft in the skies over Israel recently as you celebrated the 69th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

But even as we strengthen our partnership in practice, let us always remember our highest ideals.  Let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people, and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for every man and every woman.  Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance, and respect.

The values that are practiced in Israel have inspired millions and millions of people all across the world.  The conviction of Theodor Herzl rings true today:  “Whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will rebound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind.”

As we stand in Jerusalem, we see pilgrims of all faiths coming to this land to walk on this hallowed ground.  Jews place the prayers from their hearts in the stone blocks of the beautiful Western Wall.  Christians pray in the pews of an ancient church.  Muslims answer the call to prayer at their holy sites.  This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of human hearts to know and to worship God.

Jerusalem stands as a reminder that life can flourish against any odds.  When we look around this city — so beautiful — and we see people of all faiths engaged in reverent worship, and schoolchildren learning side-by-side, and men and women lifting up the needy and forgotten, we see that God’s promise of healing has brought goodness to so many lives.  We see that the people of this land had the courage to overcome the oppression and injustice of the past and to live in the freedom God intends for every person on this Earth.

Today, in Jerusalem, we pray and we hope that children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.  I ask this land of promise to join me to fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the State of Israel.  And God bless the United States.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:48 P.M. IDT

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Full Text Political Transcripts May 23, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Yad Vashem

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Yad Vashem

Source: WH, 5-23-17

Jerusalem

1:27 P.M. IDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu, Chairman Avner Shalev, and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau for hosting us for this moving wreath-laying ceremony.

We are here at Yad Vashem to honor the memory of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.  Two-thirds of the Jews in Europe were sent to their deaths.  Words can never describe the bottomless depths of that evil, or the scope of the anguish and destruction.

It was history’s darkest hour.  Millions of innocent, wonderful and beautiful lives — men, women and children — were extinguished as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people.  It was the most savage crime against God and his children.  And it is our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken.

As Elie Wiesel said: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”  These words should be carved into the conscience of humanity forever.  Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust — only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating.

This place, and this entire nation, are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people — and the hope that light can shine the path beyond the darkness.  Through persecution, oppression, death, and destruction, the Jewish people have persevered.  They have thrived.  They’ve become so successful in so many places.  And they have enlightened the world.  The State of Israel is a strong and soaring monument to the solemn pledge we repeat and affirm:  Never again.

From the depths of the suffering, the Jewish people have built a mighty nation — and the Star of David waves proudly above this cherished land.

As long as we refuse to be silent in the face of evil, as long as we refuse to dim the light of truth in the midst of darkness, as long as we refuse to become bystanders to barbarity, then we know that goodness, peace and justice will ultimately prevail.

With sadness for the lives and dreams that were stolen from this Earth, with determination to always keep the memories of the victims alive, and with resolve to confront evil wherever it threatens, we ask God to give us the strength, wisdom and courage to chart the righteous path.

Thank you.  God bless the memory of the perished.  God bless the survivors.  God bless the Jewish people.  And God bless the State of Israel.  Thank you for having me.  Thank you.

END
1:34 P.M. IDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 22, 2017: President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Joint Statement Remarks

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Joint Statement

Source: WH, 5-22-17

President Trump meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu

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Prime Minister’s Residence
Jerusalem

8:17 P.M. SAST

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  President Trump, Donald, Sara and I are absolutely delighted to welcome you and Melania to the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the united capital of the Jewish state.

We’ve known each other for many years, and it’s always good to see you.  But it’s also wonderful to see the blossoming friendship between our two beautiful wives, Sara and Melania.  You’re so welcome here, and we’re so pleased to see you.  We’re honored to have you in our home.

You’ve been today, Mr. President, to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism.  You have been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest sites of Christianity.  We protect the Christian sites as no one else does anywhere in this region.  We protect Christian sites, Muslim sites, obviously Jewish sites.  We’re committed to the freedom of all faiths and to the rights of all.

Mr. President, I appreciate the fact that you went to the Western Wall and you’re the first acting President who’s done that.  The people of Israel applaud you for it.  (Applause.)

We had a terrific discussion today.  And when I say terrific, it encompasses everything.  We can talk about deregulation, we can talk about economics.  I think we quote each other.  We understand each other and so much of the things that we wish to accomplish for both our countries.

But I want to thank you especially today for your deep commitment to Israel’s security, its wellbeing, and its future.  I have no doubt that, as we work together, you and I, the alliance between our countries will grow ever stronger.  I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran, which you enunciated so clearly just an hour ago.

I want you to know how much we appreciate your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  And I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.

I look forward to working closely with you to confront the dangers we face together in this violent and volatile Middle East.  I believe that together we can roll back Iran’s march of aggression and terror in this region, and we can thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition to become a nuclear weapon state.

I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region, because you have noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners.  And that’s where we see something new and potentially something very promising.  It won’t be simple.  But for the first time in many years — and, Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime — I see a real hope for change.

The Arab leaders who you met yesterday could help change the atmosphere, and they could help create the conditions for a realistic peace.  These are all great signs on your historic visit.  It’s a visit that I think has echoed down the ages, because the great Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said that there was no city on Earth he so much desired to see as Jerusalem.

Well, Mr. President, Donald, there’s no city on Earth where you are more welcome than right here with us in Jerusalem.  Welcome to Jerusalem.  Welcome to Israel.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  And it’s a great honor to be with my good friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and, of course, Sara.  Thank you.  And also thank you for that beautiful tour.  Melania is still talking about it.  Thank you very much.

You honored me and Melania by being one of the first world leaders to visit the White House, as you know.  And we had a very good and sound discussion.  And now you honor us again by welcoming us to your home on my first trip abroad as the President of the United States.

This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God.  I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people.  Because it’s all about the people.  I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall.  Words fail to capture the experience.  It will leave an impression on me forever.

Today, we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States — a friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace.  We want Israel to have peace.

But we are more than friends.  We are great allies.  We have so many opportunities in front of us.  But we must seize them together.  We must take advantage of the situation, and there are many, many things that can happen now that would never have been able to happen before.  And we understand that very well.  That includes advancing prosperity, defeating the evils of terrorism, and facing the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering.

During my travels, I have seen many hopeful signs that lead me to believe that we can truly achieve a more peaceful future for this region and for people of all faiths and all beliefs and, frankly, all over the world.

In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world.  He really does.  I got to know him well, and he really does.

These leaders voiced concerns we all share — about ISIS, about Iran’s rising ambitions and rolling back its gains, and about the menace of extremism that has spread through too many parts of the Muslim world.  I’m encouraged that they pledge cooperation to confront terrorism and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard.  America welcomes the action and support of any nation willing to do the hard but vital work in eradicating the violent ideologies that have caused so much needless bloodshed and killing here and all over the world.

We are willing to work together.  I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States, and greater prosperity to the world.  This includes a renewed effort at peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I thank the Prime Minister for his commitment to pursuing the peace process.  He’s working very hard at it.  It’s not easy.  I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.

I’m certain we will have very productive discussions.  And we’re going to have very productive discussions, in my opinion, with the leaders of other nations also.  And I feel strongly about that, because there’s a lot of love out there.  And people from all nations, even nations that you would be surprised to hear, they want to stop the killing.  They’ve had enough.

America stands ready to assist in every way we can.  Our deep and lasting friendship will only grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead.  I thank you again for hosting us in this beautiful and ancient land.  Truly, it’s a land of wonders.  And it’s my honor to be here with you.

Sara, thank you.  Bibi, thank you.  I appreciate it very much.  Great honor.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
8:28 P.M. SAST

Readout of Meeting Between President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Source: WH, 5-22-17

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on President Trump’s first official visit to Israel as President.  The two leaders reaffirmed the special bond between the United States and Israel.  President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed their joint plan to further improve relations by focusing on increased cooperation across a range of issues, including regional and cyber security, trade, technology, innovation, and research.  President Trump underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, including to the maintenance of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.  The two leaders also agreed on the need to counter Iran and its proxies, including by building strong military capabilities to protect Israel and the region from Iranian aggression.  The two leaders commended the Riyadh summit’s condemnation of terrorism and extremism and pledged to work together to defeat terrorist organizations.   President Trump observed that common interests between Israel and Arab states have made new partnerships possible.  Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed his desire for better relations with Arab states.  The two leaders agreed on the need to end the violence in Syria and move toward a political solution that will allow the Syrian people to return to secure environments and rebuild their lives.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed how to move forward with Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  President Trump reaffirmed his belief that peace is possible, not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but throughout large parts of the Middle East.  President Trump welcomed the steps that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s security cabinet have taken to improve the Palestinian economy, noting that greater economic opportunity for Palestinians would enhance the prospects for peace.

Full Text Political Transcripts February 15, 2017: President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 2-15-17

[As prepared by White House stenographer in real time]

East Room

12:15 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Today I have the honor of welcoming my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to the White House.  With this visit, the United States again reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel.  The partnership between our two countries built on our shared values has advanced the cause of human freedom, dignity and peace.  These are the building blocks of democracy.

The state of Israel is a symbol to the world of resilience in the face of oppression — I can think of no other state that’s gone through what they’ve gone — and of survival in the face of genocide.  We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured.

Your perseverance in the face of hostility, your open democracy in the face of violence, and your success in the face of tall odds is truly inspirational.  The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about.  One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal.  My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing — I mean ever — a nuclear weapon.

Our security assistance to Israel is currently at an all-time high, ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend itself from threats of which there are unfortunately many.  Both of our countries will continue and grow.  We have a long history of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against those who do not value human life.  America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.

This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations — just treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly — or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel.  Our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability.  That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.  The United States will encourage a peace and, really, a great peace deal.  We’ll be working on it very, very diligently.  Very important to me also — something we want to do.  But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement.  We’ll be beside them; we’ll be working with them.

As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises.  You know that, right?  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Both sides.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I want the Israeli people to know that the United States stands with Israel in the struggle against terrorism.  As you know, Mr. Prime Minister, our two nations will always condemn terrorist acts.  Peace requires nations to uphold the dignity of human life and to be a voice for all of those who are endangered and forgotten.

Those are the ideals to which we all, and will always, aspire and commit.  This will be the first of many productive meetings.  And I, again, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much for being with us today.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  President Trump, thank you for the truly warm hospitality you and Melania have shown me, my wife Sara, our entire delegation.  I deeply value your friendship.  To me, to the state of Israel, it was so clearly evident in the words you just spoke — Israel has no better ally than the United States.  And I want to assure you, the United States has no better ally than Israel.

Our alliance has been remarkably strong, but under your leadership I’m confident it will get even stronger.  I look forward to working with you to dramatically upgrade our alliance in every field — in security, in technology, in cyber and trade, and so many others.  And I certainly welcome your forthright call to ensure that Israel is treated fairly in international forums, and that the slander and boycotts of Israel are resisted mightily by the power and moral position of the United States of America.

As you have said, our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interests.  And, increasingly, those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force:  radical Islamic terror.  Mr. President, you’ve shown great clarity and courage in confronting this challenge head-on.  You call for confronting Iran’s terrorist regime, preventing Iran from realizing this terrible deal into a nuclear arsenal.  And you have said that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.  You call for the defeat of ISIS.  Under your leadership, I believe we can reverse the rising tide of radical Islam.  And in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you and I stand with you.

Mr. President, in rolling back militant Islam, we can seize an historic opportunity — because, for the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but, increasingly, as an ally.  And I believe that under your leadership, this change in our region creates an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen security and advance peace.

Let us seize this moment together.  Let us bolster security.  Let us seek new avenues of peace.  And let us bring the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States to even greater heights.

Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  Again, thank you.

We’ll take a couple of questions.  David Brody, Christian Broadcasting.  David.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister.  Both of you have criticized the Iran nuclear deal, and at times even called for its repeal.  I’m wondering if you’re concerned at all as it relates to not just the National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, who is recently no longer here, but also some of those events that have been going on with communication in Russia — if that is going to hamper this deal at all, and whether or not it would keep Iran from becoming a nuclear state.

And secondly, on the settlement issue, are you both on the same page?  How do you exactly term that as it relates to the settlement issue?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man.  I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media — as I call it, the fake media, in many cases.  And I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.  I think, in addition to that, from intelligence — papers are being leaked, things are being leaked.  It’s criminal actions, criminal act, and it’s been going on for a long time — before me.  But now it’s really going on, and people are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton.

I think it’s very, very unfair what’s happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated, and the documents and papers that were illegally — I stress that — illegally leaked.  Very, very unfair.

As far as settlements, I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.  We’ll work something out.  But I would like to see a deal be made.  I think a deal will be made.  I know that every President would like to.  Most of them have not started until late because they never thought it was possible.  And it wasn’t possible because they didn’t do it.

But Bibi and I have known each other a long time — a smart man, great negotiator.  And I think we’re going to make a deal.  It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand.  That’s a possibility.  So let’s see what we do.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Let’s try it.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Doesn’t sound too optimistic, but — (laughter) — he’s a good negotiator.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  That’s the “art of the deal.”  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I also want to thank — I also want to thank — Sara, could you please stand up?  You’re so lovely and you’ve been so nice to Melania.  I appreciate it very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Your turn.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Yes, please.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you very much.  Mr. President, in your vision for the new Middle East peace, are you ready to give up the notion of two-state solution that was adopted by previous administration?  And will you be willing to hear different ideas from the Prime Minister, as some of his partners are asking him to do, for example, annexation of parts of the West Bank and unrestricted settlement constructions?  And one more question:  Are you going to fulfill your promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem?  And if so, when?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, did you come here tonight to tell the President that you’re backing off the two-state solution?

Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.  (Laughter.)  I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.  I can live with either one.

I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two.  But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.

As far as the embassy moving to Jerusalem, I’d love to see that happen.  We’re looking at it very, very strongly.  We’re looking at it with great care — great care, believe me.  And we’ll see what happens.  Okay?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  I read yesterday that an American official said that if you ask five people what two states would look like, you’d get eight different answers.  Mr. President, if you ask five Israelis, you’d get 12 different answers.  (Laughter.)

But rather than deal with labels, I want to deal with substance.  It’s something I’ve hoped to do for years in a world that’s absolutely fixated on labels and not on substance.  So here’s the substance:  There are two prerequisites for peace that I laid out two years — several years ago, and they haven’t changed.

First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state.  They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction.  They have to stop educating their people for Israel’s destruction.

Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River.  Because if we don’t, we know what will happen — because otherwise we’ll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East.

Now, unfortunately, the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites for peace.  First, they continue to call for Israel’s destruction — inside their schools, inside their mosques, inside the textbooks.  You have to read it to believe it.

They even deny, Mr. President, our historical connection to our homeland.  And I suppose you have to ask yourself:  Why do – – why are Jews called Jews?  Well, the Chinese are called Chinese because they come from China.  The Japanese are called Japanese because they come from Japan.  Well, Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea.  This is our ancestral homeland.  Jews are not foreign colonialists in Judea.

So, unfortunately, the Palestinians not only deny the past, they also poison the present.  They name public squares in honor of mass murderers who murdered Israelis, and I have to say also murdered Americans.  They fund — they pay monthly salaries to the families of murderers, like the family of the terrorist who killed Taylor Force, a wonderful young American, a West Point graduate, who was stabbed to death while visiting Israel.

So this is the source of the conflict — the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary; this persistent rejection.  That’s the reason we don’t have peace.  Now, that has to change.  I want it to change.  Not only have I not abandoned these two prerequisites of peace; they’ve become even more important because of the rising tide of fanaticism that has swept the Middle East and has also, unfortunately, infected Palestinian society.

So I want this to change.  I want those two prerequisites of peace — substance, not labels — I want them reinstated.  But if anyone believes that I, as Prime Minister of Israel, responsible for the security of my country, would blindly walk into a Palestinian terrorist state that seeks the destruction of my country, they’re gravely mistaken.

The two prerequisites of peace — recognition of the Jewish state, and Israel’s security needs west of the Jordan — they remain pertinent.  We have to look for new ways, new ideas on how to reinstate them and how to move peace forward.  And I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach from involving our newfound Arab partners in the pursuit of a broader peace and peace with the Palestinians.

And I greatly look forward to discussing this in detail with you, Mr. President, because I think that if we work together, we have a shot.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And we have been discussing that, and it is something that is very different, hasn’t been discussed before.  And it’s actually a much bigger deal, a much more important deal, in a sense.  It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory.  So I didn’t know you were going to be mentioning that, but that’s — now that you did, I think it’s a terrific thing and I think we have some pretty good cooperation from people that in the past would never, ever have even thought about doing this.  So we’ll see how that works out.

Katie from Townhall.  Where’s Katie?  Right there.  Katie.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You said in your earlier remarks that both sides will have to make compromises when it comes to a peace deal.  You’ve mentioned a halt on settlements.  Can you lay out a few more specific compromises that you have in mind, both for the Israelis and for the Palestinians?

And, Mr. Prime Minister, what expectations do you have from the new administration about how to either amend the Iran nuclear agreement or how to dismantle it altogether, and how to overall work with the new administration to combat Iran’s increased aggression, not only in the last couple of months but the past couple of years as well?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It’s actually an interesting question.  I think that the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard, it’s hard to do.  They’re going to have to show the fact that they really want to make a deal.  I think our new concept that we’ve been discussing actually for a while is something that allows them to show more flexibility than they have in the past because you have a lot bigger canvas to play with.  And I think they’ll do that.

I think they very much would like to make a deal or I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be as optimistic as I am.  I really think they — I can tell you from the standpoint of Bibi and from the standpoint of Israel, I really believe they want to make a deal and they’d like to see the big deal.

I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate that they’re taught from a very young age.  They’re taught tremendous hate.  I’ve seen what they’re taught.  And you can talk about flexibility there too, but it starts at a very young age and it starts in the school room.  And they have to acknowledge Israel — they’re going to have to do that.  There’s no way a deal can be made if they’re not ready to acknowledge a very, very great and important country.  And I think they’re going to be willing to do that also.  But now I also believe we’re going to have, Katie, other players at a very high level, and I think it might make it easier on both the Palestinians and Israel to get something done.

Okay?  Thank you.  Very interesting question.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  You asked about Iran.  One thing is preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons — something that President Trump and I think are deeply committed to do.  And we are obviously going to discuss that.

I think, beyond that, President Trump has led a very important effort in the past few weeks, just coming into the presidency.  He pointed out there are violations, Iranian violations on ballistic missile tests.  By the way, these ballistic missiles are inscribed in Hebrew, “Israel must be destroyed.”  The Palestinian — rather the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif said, well, our ballistic missiles are not intended against any country.  No.  They write on the missile in Hebrew, “Israel must be destroyed.”

So challenging Iran on its violations of ballistic missiles, imposing sanctions on Hezbollah, preventing them, making them pay for the terrorism that they foment throughout the Middle East and beyond, well beyond — I think that’s a change that is clearly evident since President Trump took office.  I welcome that.  I think it’s — let me say this very openly:  I think it’s long overdue, and I think that if we work together — and not just the United States and Israel, but so many others in the region who see eye to eye on the great magnitude and danger of the Iranian threat, then I think we can roll back Iran’s aggression and danger.  And that’s something that is important for Israel, the Arab states, but I think it’s vitally important for America.  These guys are developing ICBMs.  They’re developing — they want to get to a nuclear arsenal, not a bomb, a hundred bombs.  And they want to have the ability to launch them everywhere on Earth, and including, and especially, eventually, the United States.

So this is something that is important for all of us.  I welcome the change, and I intend to work with President Trump very closely so that we can thwart this danger.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Great.  Do you have somebody?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Moav (ph)?

Q    Mr. President, since your election campaign and even after your victory, we’ve seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States.  And I wonder what you say to those among the Jewish community in the States, and in Israel, and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.

And, Mr. Prime Minister, do you agree to what the President just said about the need for Israel to restrain or to stop settlement activity in the West Bank?  And a quick follow-up on my friend’s questions — simple question:  Do you back off from your vision to the end of the conflict of two-state solution as you laid out in Bar-Ilan speech, or you still support it?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I just want to say that we are very honored by the victory that we had — 306 Electoral College votes.  We were not supposed to crack 220.  You know that, right?  There was no way to 221, but then they said there’s no way to 270.  And there’s tremendous enthusiasm out there.

I will say that we are going to have peace in this country.  We are going to stop crime in this country.  We are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on, because lot of bad things have been taking place over a long period of time.

I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation.  Very divided.  And, hopefully, I’ll be able to do something about that.  And, you know, it was something that was very important to me.

As far as people — Jewish people — so many friends, a daughter who happens to be here right now, a son-in-law, and three beautiful grandchildren.  I think that you’re going to see a lot different United States of America over the next three, four, or eight years.  I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love.  You’re going to see a lot of love.  Okay?  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  I believe that the issue of the settlements is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict.  I think it’s an issue, it has to be resolved in the context of peace negotiations.  And I think we also are going to speak about it, President Trump and I, so we can arrive at an understanding so we don’t keep on bumping into each other all the time on this issue.  And we’re going to discuss this.

On the question you said, you just came back with your question to the problem that I said.  It’s the label.  What does Abu Mazen mean by two states, okay?  What does he mean?  A state that doesn’t recognize the Jewish state?  A state that basically is open for attack against Israel?  What are we talking about?  Are we talking about Costa Rica, or are we talking about another Iran?

So obviously it means different things.  I told you what are the conditions that I believe are necessary for an agreement:  It’s the recognition of the Jewish state and it’s Israel’s — Israel’s — security control of the entire area.  Otherwise we’re just fantasizing.  Otherwise we’ll get another failed state, another terrorist Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace but work to destroy us but also destroy any hope — any hope — for a peaceful future for our people.

So I’ve been very clear about those conditions, and they haven’t changed.  I haven’t changed.  If you read what I said eight years ago, it’s exactly that.  And I repeated that again, and again, and again.  If you want to deal with labels, deal with labels.  I’ll deal with substance.

And finally, if I can respond to something that I know from personal experience.  I’ve known President Trump for many years, and to allude to him, or to his people — his team, some of whom I’ve known for many years, too.  Can I reveal, Jared, how long we’ve known you?  (Laughter.)  Well, he was never small.  He was always big.  He was always tall.

But I’ve known the President and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time, and there is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump.  I think we should put that to rest.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Very nice.  I appreciate that very much.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.

END
12:42 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts November 9, 2015: President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Statement before their White House Meeting Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 11-9-15

Oval Office

10:34 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it is very good to welcome once again Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to the Oval Office.  There’s no foreign leader who I’ve met with more frequently, and I think that’s a testimony to the extraordinary bond between the United States and Israel.

Before I get started, I just want to say a brief word about the Jordanian attack that we discovered earlier — the fact that someone dressed in military uniform carried out an attack at a training facility in which it appears that there may have been two or three U.S. citizens killed, and a number of other individuals injured.  Obviously, a full investigation is taking place.  We take this very seriously, and we’ll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened.  But at this stage, I want to just let everyone know that this is something we’re paying close attention to.  And at the point where the families have been notified, obviously our deepest condolences will be going out to them.

I also want to extend my condolences to the Israeli people on the passing of former President Navon.  Obviously, he was an important figure in Israeli politics.  And we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.

This is going to be an opportunity for the Prime Minister and myself to engage in a wide-ranging discussion on some of the most pressing security issues that both our countries face.  It’s no secret that the security environment in the Middle East has deteriorated in many areas.  And as I’ve said repeatedly, the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities.  And that has expressed itself not only in words, but in deeds.

We have closer military and intelligence cooperation than any two administrations in history.  The military assistance that we provide we consider not only an important part of our obligation to the security of the state of Israel, but also an important part of U.S. security infrastructure in the region, as we make sure that one of our closest allies cannot only protect itself but can also work with us in deterring terrorism and other security threats.

In light of what continues to be a chaotic situation in Syria, this will give us an opportunity to discuss what’s happening there.  We’ll have an opportunity to discuss how we can blunt the activities of ISIL, Hezbollah and other organizations in the region that carry out terrorist attacks.  A lot of our time will be spent on a memorandum of understanding that we can potentially negotiate.  It will be expiring in a couple of years, but we want to get a head start on that to make sure that both the United States and Israel can plan effectively for our defense needs going forward.

We’ll also have a chance to talk about how implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement is going.  It’s no secret that the Prime Minister and I have had a strong disagreement on this narrow issue, but we don’t have a disagreement on the need to making sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, and we don’t have a disagreement about the importance of us blunting and destabilizing activities that Iran may be taking place.  And so we’re going to be looking to make sure that we find common ground there.

And we will also have an opportunity to discuss some of the concerns that both of us have around violence in the Palestinian Territories.  I want to be very clear that we condemn in the strongest terms Palestinian violence against its and Israeli citizens.  And I want to repeat once again, it is my strong belief that Israel has not just the right, but the obligation to protect itself.

I also will discuss with the Prime Minister his thoughts on how we can lower the temperature between Israelis and Palestinians, how we can get back on a path towards peace, and how we can make sure that legitimate Palestinian aspirations are met through a political process, even as we make sure that Israel is able to secure itself.

And so this is going to be a lot of work to do, with too little time, which is why I will stop here and just once again say, welcome.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  Mr. President, first let me express the condolences of the people of Israel for the loss of American lives.  We are with you.  We’re with each other in more ways than one.  And I want to thank you for this opportunity to strengthen our friendship, which is strong; strengthen our alliance, which is strong.  I think it’s rooted in shared values.  It’s buttressed by shared interests.  It’s driven forward by a sense of a shared destiny.

We are obviously tested today in the instability and insecurity in the Middle East, as you described it.  I think everybody can see it — with the savagery of ISIS, with the aggression and terror by Iran’s proxies and by Iran itself.  And the combination of turbulence has now displaced millions of people, has butchered hundreds of thousands.  And we don’t know what will transpire.

And I think this is a tremendously important opportunity for us to work together to see how we can defend ourselves against this aggression and this terror; how we can roll back.  It’s a daunting task.

Equally, I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace.  We’ll never give up the hope for peace.  And I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples, a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.

I don’t think that anyone should doubt Israel’s determination to defend itself against terror and destruction, and neither should anyone doubt Israel’s willingness to make peace with any of its neighbors that genuinely want to achieve peace with us.  And I look forward to discussing with you practical ways in which we can lower the tension, increase stability, and move towards peace.

And finally, Mr. President, I want to thank you for your commitment to further bolstering Israel’s security in the memorandum of understanding that we’re discussing.  Israel has shouldered a tremendous defense burden over the years, and we’ve done it with the generous assistance of the United States of America.  And I want to express my appreciation to you and express the appreciation of the people of Israel to you for your efforts in this regard during our years of common service and what you’re engaging in right now — how to bolster Israel’s security, how to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge so that Israel can, as you’ve often said, defend itself, by itself, against any threat.

So for all these reasons, I want to thank you again for your hospitality, but even more so for sustaining and strengthening the tremendous friendship and alliance between Israel and the United States of America.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

END
10:43 A.M. EST

Political Musings March 13, 2015: Romney wants Obama to refuse Iran deal defends Netanyahu and 47 GOP senators

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Romney wants Obama to refuse Iran deal defends Netanyahu and 47 GOP senators

March 13, 2015

Just because he is not running for president in 2016 does not mean former 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney is not going to weigh in on the potential Iran nuclear weapons deal. Romney wrote an op-ed published…

Political Musings February 7, 2015: Biden, Democrats unofficially boycotting Netanyahu’s address to Congress

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Biden, Democrats unofficially boycotting Netanyahu’s address to Congress

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Although there will not by an official boycott against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s joint address to Congress on March 3, 2015, Democratic members of Congress might be conveniently busy and unable to attend. Even Vice President Joe Biden…READ MORE

News Headlines January 11, 2015: World leaders and millions march in Paris, all over the globe against terrorism

NEWS HEADLINES

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THE HEADLINES….

World leaders and millions march in Paris, all over the globe against terrorism

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Over 40 world leaders gathered in Paris, France on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 11, 2015 to lead a march of over a million in solidarity “cry for freedom” with the French capital after three days of terror attacks…READ MORE

Political Musings October 29, 2014: US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

US-Israel crisis reactions: Obama official calls Netanyahu coward, chickenshit

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States Israel relations have gone downhill fast. At the beginning of the month, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a friendly meeting at the White House, but in four weeks, the fragile personal relationship has…READ MORE

Political Musings October 8, 2014: Netanyahu, Obama Administration fight over Jerusalem building, American values

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu, Obama Administration fight over Jerusalem building, American values

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s friendly White House meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 was too good to be true considering their track record. It was not destined to last long, within hours Obama…READ MORE

Political Musings October 1, 2014: Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran, Palestinians in friendlier White House meeting

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran, Palestinians in friendlier White House meeting

By Bonnie K. Goodman

In a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 that was less acrimonious than their last, President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office. For Netanyahu the most important part…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency October 1, 2014: President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks Before Bilateral Meeting — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel Before Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 10-1-14

Oval Office

11:23 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it’s good once again to welcome the Prime Minister of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu.  Obviously, he’s no stranger to the White House.  I think I’ve met with Bibi more than any world leader during my tenure as President.

We meet at a challenging time.  Israel is obviously in a very turbulent neighborhood, and this gives us an opportunity once again to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and our ironclad commitment to making sure that Israel is secure.

Throughout the summer, obviously all of us were deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza.  I think the American people should be very proud of the contributions that we made to the Iron Dome program to protect the lives of Israelis at a time when rockets were pouring into Israel on a regular basis.  I think we also recognize that we have to find ways to change the status quo so that both Israeli citizens are safe in their own homes and schoolchildren in their schools from the possibility of rocket fire, but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well.

And so we’ll discuss extensively both the situation of rebuilding Gaza but also how can we find a more sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Our agenda will be broader than that, obviously.  I’ll debrief Bibi on the work that we’re doing to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, and the broader agenda that I discussed at the United Nations, which is mobilizing a coalition not only for military action, but also to bring about a shift in Arab states and Muslim countries that isolate the cancer of violent extremism that is so pernicious and ultimately has killed more Muslims than anything else.

And we’ll also have an opportunity to discuss the progress that’s being made with respect to dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, which obviously has been a high priority for not only Israel, but also the United States and the world community.

So we have a lot to talk about, and I appreciate very much the Prime Minister coming.  It’s challenging I think for an Israeli Prime Minister to have to work so hard during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but I know that the Prime Minister’s utmost priority is making sure that his country is safe during these difficult times.  And we’re glad that the United States can be a partner in that process.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. President, first I want to thank you.  I want to thank you for the unflinching support you gave Israel during our difficult days and difficult summer we had — expressed in so many ways, but also in an additional installment of support for Iron Dome, which has saved so many lives, saved many lives across the border.  And I thank you for that, and for the continuous bond of friendship that is so strong between Israel and the United States.

I also want to thank you for this opportunity to meet with you and to discuss the enormous challenges facing the United States and Israel in the Middle East.  There’s definitely a new Middle East.  I think it poses new dangers, but it also presents new opportunities.

As for the dangers, Israel fully supports your effort and your leadership to defeat ISIS.  We think everybody should support this.  And even more critical is our shared goal of preventing Iran from becoming a military nuclear power.

As you know, Mr. President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you’ve worked so hard to put in place, and leave it as a threshold nuclear power.  I fervently hope that under your leadership that would not happen.

Equally, I think that there are opportunities.  And the opportunities, as you just expressed, is something that is changing in the Middle East, because out of the new situation, there emerges a commonality of interests between Israel and leading Arab states.  And I think that we should work very hard together to seize on those common interests and build a positive program to advance a more secure, more prosperous and a more peaceful Middle East.

I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples based on mutual recognition and rock solid security arrangements on the ground.  And I believe we should make use of the new opportunities, think outside the box, see how we can recruit the Arab countries to advance this very hopeful agenda.  And I look forward to our discussions on these and many other matters.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everybody.

END
11:29 A.M. EDT

Political Musings September 30, 2014: Netanyahu in powerful UN address equates ISIS with Hamas, Iran greatest threat

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Netanyahu in powerful UN address equates ISIS with Hamas, Iran greatest threat

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promise to “refute all of the lies being directed at us” when he boarded his flight to New York on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, and when he delivered his address to…READ MORE

Political Musings September 23, 2014: Obama readies for UN General Assembly speech uniting coalition for ISIS fight

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama readies for UN General Assembly speech uniting coalition for ISIS fight

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As President Barack Obama is preparing his speech on Sept. 24, 2014 to the United Nations General Assembly in New York about uniting allies in the coalition to fight ISIS, The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, he is also…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency July 21, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Situation in Ukraine, Malaysian Airline Flight MH17 and Israel’s Military Operation in Gaza

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

Statement by the President on the Situation in Ukraine and Gaza

Source: WH, 7-21-14 

South Lawn

11:16 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  I want to make a brief statement about the tragedy in Ukraine.  Before I do, though, I want to note that Secretary Kerry has departed for the Middle East.  As I’ve said many times, Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket and tunnel attacks from Hamas.  And as a result of its operations, Israel has already done significant damage to Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.  I’ve also said, however, that we have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.  And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and that can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.

So Secretary Kerry will meet with allies and partners.  I’ve instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.  The work will not be easy.  Obviously, there are enormous passions involved in this and some very difficult strategic issues involved.  Nevertheless, I’ve asked John to do everything he can to help facilitate a cessation to hostilities.  We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed.

With respect to Ukraine, it’s now been four days since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.  Over the last several days, our hearts have been absolutely broken as we’ve learned more about the extraordinary and beautiful lives that were lost — men, women and children and infants who were killed so suddenly and so senselessly.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with their families around the world who are going through just unimaginable grief.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of leaders around the world whose citizens were lost on this flight, and all of them remain in a state of shock but, frankly, also in a state of outrage.

Our immediate focus is on recovering those who were lost, investigating exactly what happened, and putting forward the facts.  We have to make sure that the truth is out and that accountability exists.

Now, international investigators are on the ground.  They have been organized.  I’ve sent teams; other countries have sent teams.  They are prepared, they are organized to conduct what should be the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this.  And what they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site.  They need to be able to conduct a prompt and full and unimpeded as well as transparent investigation.  And recovery personnel have to do the solemn and sacred work on recovering the remains of those who were lost.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko has declared a demilitarized zone around the crash site.  As I said before, you have international teams already in place prepared to conduct the investigation and recover the remains of those who have been lost.  But, unfortunately, the Russian-backed separatists who control the area continue to block the investigation.  They have repeatedly prevented international investigators from gaining full access to the wreckage.  As investigators approached, they fired their weapons into the air.  These separatists are removing evidence from the crash site, all of which begs the question — what exactly are they trying to hide?

Moreover, these Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this.  And this is an insult to those who have lost loved ones.  This is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.

Now, Russia has extraordinary influence over these separatists.  No one denies that.  Russia has urged them on.  Russia has trained them.  We know that Russia has armed them with military equipment and weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons.  Key separatist leaders are Russian citizens.  So given its direct influence over the separatists, Russia and President Putin, in particular, has direct responsibility to compel them to cooperate with the investigation.  That is the least that they can do.

President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation.  And I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions.  The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.  The separatists and the Russian sponsors are responsible for the safety of the investigators doing their work.  And along with our allies and partners, we will be working this issue at the United Nations today.

More broadly, as I’ve said throughout this crisis and the crisis in Ukraine generally, and I’ve said this directly to President Putin, as well as publicly, my preference continues to be finding a diplomatic resolution within Ukraine.  I believe that can still happen.  That is my preference today, and it will continue to be my preference.

But if Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and to back these separatists, and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are risks not simply to the people inside of Ukraine but the broader international community, then Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community, and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase.

Now is the time for President Putin and Russia to pivot away from the strategy that they’ve been taking and get serious about trying to resolve hostilities within Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and respects the right of the Ukrainian people to make their own decisions about their own lives.

And time is of the essence.  Our friends and allies need to be able to recover those who were lost.  That’s the least we can do.  That’s the least that decency demands.  Families deserve to be able to lay their loved ones to rest with dignity.  The world deserves to know exactly what happened.  And the people of Ukraine deserve to determine their own future.

Thanks.

END
11:25 A.M. EDT

Political Musings December 8, 2013: Obama, former Presidents, world leaders honor Nelson Mandela will attend funeral

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama, former Presidents, world leaders honor Nelson Mandela will attend funeral

By Bonnie K. Goodman

As the world’s nations and their leaders mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela at the age of 95 after a lengthy illness late Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 flags all over the world were ordered to fly at half…READ MORE

Political Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House Saturday November 23, 2013, in Washington about the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran (photo credit: AP/Susan Walsh)

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Full Text Political Transcripts September 15, 2013: Secretary of State John Kerry & Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks after their Meeting about Syria, Iran & Peace Talks

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Mr. Secretary, John, a pleasure to welcome you again in Jerusalem. I very much appreciate the fact that you’re here today. You’ve got a lot on your plate. Despite that busy schedule of yours, you took the time to come to Jerusalem. It’s deeply appreciated. I appreciate the fact that you’re making a great personal effort on matters of vital strategic importance for all of us.

We have been closely following and support your ongoing efforts to rid Syria of its chemical weapons. The Syrian regime must be stripped all its chemical weapons, and that would make our entire region a lot safer. The world needs to ensure that radical regimes don’t have weapons of mass destruction, because as we’ve learned once again in Syria, if rogue regimes have weapons of mass destruction, they will use them. The determination the international community shows regarding Syria will have a direct impact on the Syrian regime’s patron, Iran.

Iran must understand the consequences of its continual defiance of the international community by its pursuit towards nuclear weapons. What the past few days have showed is something that I’ve been saying for quite some time, that if diplomacy has any chance to work, it must be coupled with a credible military threat. What is true of Iran – or what is true of Syria is true of Iran, and by the way, vice versa.

John, I appreciate the opportunity we’ve had to discuss at some length our quest for peace with the Palestinians and the ongoing talks. We both know that this road is not an easy one, but we’ve embarked on this effort with you in order to succeed, to bring about a historic reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians that ends the conflict once and for all. I want to welcome you once again to Jerusalem. I want to promise all of those who are seeing us now that this will not be our last long meeting.

SECRETARY KERRY: No. (Laughter.) Not by any means.

Mr. Prime Minister, my friend Bibi, thank you very much for one of your generous welcomes here again. I’m very appreciative, very happy to be back here in Israel, and only sorry that it’s a short time and a short visit. I thank you for your generous hospitality and I pick up on your comments that the road ahead is not easy. If it were easy, peace would have been achieved a long time ago. But what is clearer than ever today is that this is a road worth traveling. And so I’m delighted to have spent a good period of time – (clears throat) – excuse me, folks, the benefits of a lot of travel. (Laughter.)

I’m really happy to have spent a serious amount of time with the Prime Minister this afternoon talking in some depth about the challenges of the particular road that we are on. This is a follow-up to a very productive meeting that I had in London last week with President Abbas, so I am talking to both presidents directly as we agreed —

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Don’t elevate me to the role of president.

SECRETARY KERRY: President – Prime Minister and President, I apologize.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: I can’t reach those heights —

SECRETARY KERRY: (Laughter.) Both leaders.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: — and I respect Mr. Peres greatly and —

SECRETARY KERRY: I am talking to both leaders directly. And everybody, I think, understands the goal that we are working for. It is two states living side by side in peace and in security. Two states because there are two proud peoples, both of whom deserve to fulfill their legitimate national aspirations in a homeland of their own, and two states because today, as we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, I think everybody is reminded significantly of the costs of conflict and the price, certainly, that Israelis have paid in the quest for their security and identity.

The Prime Minister and I and all of the parties involved have agreed that we will not discuss details at any point in time. We are convinced that the best way to try to work through the difficult choices that have to be made is to do so privately with confidence that everybody will respect that process. And since I have asked for that from all the parties, I’m not going to break it now or at any other time. We will not discuss the substance of what we are working on.

I do want to comment, however, as the Prime Minister has, on the challenge of the region and what we have just been doing in the last few days of negotiations in Geneva. And that is, as the Prime Minister has said, an issue that directly affects the stability of this entire region, and ultimately, weapons of mass destruction, which are at stake in this issue, are a challenge to everybody on this planet. So this is a global issue, and that is the focus that we have tried to give it in the talks in Geneva in the last days, but we want to make sure people understand exactly what we are trying to achieve and how.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has enormous implications for all of the neighbors – the press of refugees, the fact of weapons of mass destruction having been used against the people of their own state. These are crimes against humanity, and they cannot be tolerated, and they are a threat to the capacity of the global community to be able to live by standards of rules of law and the highest standards of human behavior.

So I want people to understand the key elements of what we agreed to in Geneva. It is a framework, not a final agreement. It is a framework that must be put into effect by the United Nations now. But it is a framework that, with the Russian and U.S. agreement, it has the full ability to be able to, as the Prime Minister said, strip all of the chemical weapons from Syria. The Russians have agreed, they state, that the Assad regime has agreed to make its declaration within one week of the location and the amount of those weapons. And then we will put in place what we hope to put in place through the United Nations, what Russia and the United States agreed on, which is the most far-reaching chemical weapons removal effort well beyond the CWC that has been designed.

Now this will only be as effective as its implementation will be, and President Obama has made it clear that to accomplish that, the threat of force remains. The threat of force is real, and the Assad regime and all those taking part need to understand that President Obama and the United States are committed to achieve this goal. We cannot have hollow words in the conduct of international affairs because that affects all other issues, whether Iran or North Korea or any other.

The core principles with respect to the removal of these weapons and the containment of these weapons, which we want to achieve, as we said in the document, in the soonest, fastest, most effective way possible – if we achieve that, we will have set a marker for the standard of behavior with respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea and any other state, rogue state, group that decide to try to reach for these kinds of weapons.

The core principles will have the full backing of the international community through the UN Security Council. And Russia agreed that any breach of compliance, according to standards already set out in the CWC, any breach of the specifics of this agreement or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria will result in immediate referral and action by the Security Council for measures under Chapter 7, which means what they select, up to and including the possibility of the use of force.

So again, I reiterate diplomacy has always been the preferred path of the President of the United States, and I think is any peace-loving nation’s preferred choice. But make no mistake, we’ve taken no options off the table. President Obama’s been absolutely clear about the remainder of the potential of use of force if there is noncompliance or refusal to take part, because the egregious use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against innocent men, women, children, their own citizens all indiscriminately murdered in the dead of night, is unacceptable. And we have said in no uncertain terms that this should never happen again. This country understands the words, “Never again,” perhaps better than any other.

I’ve been in contact with many of my counterparts, with Foreign Secretary Hague of the United Kingdom, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Their partnership on these issues has been essential. And I will see both of them tomorrow and Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey in Paris, where I’ll also meet Foreign Minister Saud Faisal of Saudi Arabia in order to talk about the road ahead to achieve our goals.

Our attention and our efforts will now shift to the Organization of the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UN Security Council, and the international community expects the Assad regime to live up to its commitments, and we expect Russia to join with us in holding them accountable.

I also want to make clear this effort is not just about securing chemical weapons in Syria. We are not just standing up for a redline that the world drew some 100 years ago, and which is worth standing up for. Our focus now must remain on ending the violence, ending the indiscriminate killing, ending the creation of more and more refugees that is not only tearing Syria apart, but threatens the region itself.

As President Obama has said, and I have said many times, there is no military solution to this conflict. We don’t want to create more and more extremist elements and we don’t want to see the implosion of the state of Syria. So our overall objective is to find a political solution through diplomacy, and that needs to happen at the negotiating table, and we will stay engaged with a sense of urgency. And I say to the Syrian opposition and all those in Syria who recognize that just removing the chemical weapons doesn’t do the job, we understand that, and that is not all we are going to seek to do. But it is one step forward, and it eliminates that weapon from the arsenal of a man who has proven willing to do anything to his own people to hold onto power.

Foreign Minister Lavrov and I met with Special Envoy Brahimi yesterday. We will meet again in New York. We are committed to continue to work towards the Geneva 2. And we have made clear that our support to the opposition in an effort to get there will continue unabated.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, I know you and I are both clear-eyed about the challenges ahead. We have to summon the grit and the determination to stay at this, to make the tough decisions – tough decisions about eliminating weapons of mass destruction and tough decisions about making peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We will not lose sight of the end game. I know that from talking with the Prime Minister today. And I think both of us remain deeply committed, and we hope very much with our partners in the region, to doing our best to try to make this journey towards peace get to its destination.

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: John, another sound bite. (Laughter.)

Political Musings August 2, 2013: President Barack Obama steps up involvement in peace talks, phones Netanyahu and Abbas

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama steps up involvement in peace talks, phones Netanyahu and Abbas

By Bonnie K. Goodman

United States President Barack Obama stepped up his personal involvement in the peace process by calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, August 1, 2013. This is the second time this week Obama…READ MORE

Obama Presidency March 26, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Middle East Trip to Israel & Jordan Photo Gallery

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Photo Gallery: President Obama’s Middle East Trip

Source: WH, 3-26-13

In the first foreign trip of his second term, President Obama embarked on a four-day visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

The White House Photo Office was with the President throughout his travels, and they’ve put together a collection of images from the Middle East trip, which include the President meeting with officials including Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel, a dance performance in Ramallah, the West Bank and breathtaking shots from Petra, a World Heritage Site in Jordan. Check out the gallery below and visit our Middle East trip page for more information, including video.

The President Pauses For National Anthem
President Obama pauses during the official arrival ceremony in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President Waves To The Audience
President Obama waves at the Jerusalem Convention Center in Jerusalem. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President Visits The Hall Of Remembrance

President Obama pauses during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The President Tours The Church Of The Nativity

President Obama tours the crypt containing the birthplace of Jesus. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Political Headlines March 22, 2013: President Barack Obama Ends Israel Trip with Nods to Christianity, Judaism

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Ends Israel Trip with Nods to Christianity, Judaism

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-22-13

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Concluding his three-day trip to Israel, President Obama got an unplanned look at the political realities plaguing the peace process during a visit to Bethlehem Friday afternoon.

The president was supposed to fly by helicopter to Bethlehem but a windstorm forced him to travel by motorcade instead.  The change in plans was cheered by Palestinians because the president drove past the large concrete wall erected by the Israelis, giving Obama a direct look at the hostilities facing the region on a daily basis….READ MORE

Political Headlines March 22, 2013: President Barack Obama Tours Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Israel

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Tours Holocaust Memorial in Israel

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-22-13

Pool photo/Peter Maer/CBS News

On his third day in the Middle East, President Obama toured Vad Yashem, Israel’s memorial for Jews killed in the Holocaust during World War II.

“You could come here a thousand times and each time our hearts would break for here we see the depravity to which man could sink,” Obama said on Friday….READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 22, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the Hall of Children, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem Transcript

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the Hall of Children, Yad Vashem

Source: WH, 3-22-13 

Yad Vashem
Jerusalem

10:22 A.M. IST

THE PRESIDENT:  “Unto them I will give my house and within my walls a memorial and a name…an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”

President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Chairman Shalev, Rabbi Lau — thank you for sharing this house, this memorial, with me today.  And thank you to the people of Israel for preserving the names of the millions taken from us, of blessed memory — names that shall never be forgotten.

This is my second visit to this living memorial.  Since then, I’ve walked among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald.  Rabbi Lau told me of his time there, and we reminisced about our good friend, Elie Wiesel, and the memories that he shared with me.  I have stood in the old Warsaw ghetto, with survivors who would not go quietly.  But nothing equals the wrenching power of this sacred place, where the totality of the Shoah is told.  We could come here a thousand times, and each time our hearts would break.

For here we see the depravity to which man can sink; the barbarism that unfolds when we begin to see our fellow human beings as somehow less than us, less worthy of dignity and of life.  We see how evil can, for a moment in time, triumph when good people do nothing, and how silence abetted a crime unique in human history.

Here we see their faces and we hear their voices.  We look upon the objects of their lives — the art that they created, the prayer books that they carried.  We see that even as they had hate etched into their arms, they were not numbers.  They were men and women and children — so many children — sent to their deaths because of who they were, how they prayed, or who they loved.

And yet, here, alongside man’s capacity for evil, we also are reminded of man’s capacity for good — the rescuers, the Righteous Among the Nations who refused to be bystanders.  And in their noble acts of courage, we see how this place, this accounting of horror, is, in the end, a source of hope.

For here we learn that we are never powerless.  In our lives we always have choices.  To succumb to our worst instincts or to summon the better angels of our nature.  To be indifferent to suffering to wherever it may be, whoever it may be visited upon, or to display the empathy that is at the core of our humanity.  We have the choice to acquiesce to evil or make real our solemn vow — “never again.”  We have the choice to ignore what happens to others, or to act on behalf of others and to continually examine in ourselves whatever dark places there may be that might lead to such actions or inactions.  This is our obligation — not simply to bear witness, but to act.

For us, in our time, this means confronting bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, racism, especially anti-Semitism.  None of that has a place in the civilized world — not in the classrooms of children; not in the corridors of power.  And let us never forget the link between the two.  For our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate.  So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding and compassion that we hope others have for them.

Here we hope.  Because after you walk through these halls, after you pass through the darkness, there is light — a glorious view of the Jerusalem Forest, with the sun shining over the historic homeland of the Jewish people; a fulfillment of the prophecy: “you shall live again…upon your own soil.”  Here, on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear:  The State of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust.  But with the survival of a strong Jewish State of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again.

Here we pray that we all can be better; that we can all grow, like the sapling near the Children’s Memorial — a sapling from a chestnut tree that Anne Frank could see from her window.  The last time she described it in her diary, she wrote: “Our chestnut tree is in full bloom.  It’s covered with leaves and is even more beautiful than last year.”  That’s a reminder of who we can be.  But we have to work for it.  We have to work for it here in Israel.  We have to work for it in America.  We have to work for it around the world — to tend the light and the brightness as opposed to our worst instincts.

So may God bless the memory of the millions.  May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life.  And may each spring bring a full bloom even more beautiful than the last.

END
10:29 A.M. IST

Political Headlines March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama Stands Firm on Mideast Two-State Solution in Israel Speech

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Stands Firm on Mideast Two-State Solution

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-21-13

Yin Dongxun-Pool/Getty Images

Speaking before a young Israeli audience in Jerusalem, President Obama Thursday delivered an impassioned plea for Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peaceful two-state solution while he affirmed the “unbreakable bonds of friendship” between the United States and Israel.

“The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine,” President Obama said at the Jerusalem Convention Center. “Peace is necessary, but peace is also just.”…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 21, 2013: President Barack Obama & President Shimon Peres of Israel’s Speeches at State Dinner

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President and President Peres of Israel at State Dinner

Source: WH, 3-21-13

President’s Residence
Jerusalem

8:15 P.M. IST

PRESIDENT PERES:  I think that’s the President’s remarks.  Mr. President, can I read your speech?  (Laughter.)  They are mistaken.  (Laughter.)

President Barack Obama, my dear friend, let me say first, Bravo.  Bravo, President.  (Applause.)

It is my great pleasure to welcome you tonight.  I was moved the way in which you spoke to the heart of our young Israelis.  Our youngsters, in time of need, are always willing to stand up and defend their country.  Today, you have seen how much the same young people long for peace.  How enthusiastic they were, how engaged they were, listening to the vision of peace, which you beautifully delivered and moved the heart.

Mr. President, this morning several rockets were shot from the Gaza Strip towards civilian targets in Israel, including Sderot that you have visited.  From here, in the name of all us, I want to convey our love to the inhabitants of the south around Gaza who carry this heavy burden courageously and continue to plow their land, plant their trees, raise their children.  It is an inspiration to each of us.  Today, the enemies of peace spoke in the only language they know — the language of terror.  I am convinced that together we shall defeat them.

Dear Barack, your visit here is a historic event.  We are so happy to receive you and your distinguished delegation.  I am very glad to see Secretary John Kerry — an old friend.  John, I know you are and I know you will be successful.  I’m not sure that the prophets have had speechwriters — (laughter) — but if they had, I imagine Isaiah would have said — but actually he has said on that occasion — and I’m quoting him, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation.” Well, you have to be satisfied with my language — I cannot speak like him.  (Laughter.)

It is my privilege to present you with our country’s highest honor — the Medal of Distinction.  This award speaks to you, to your tireless work to make Israel strong, to make peace possible. Your presidency has given the closest ties between Israel and the United States a new height, a sense of intimacy, a vision for the future.

The people of Israel are particularly moved by your unforgettable contribution to their security.  You are defending our skies — to you, revelation in the name of intelligence, which is the right way to preempt bloodshed.  The diplomatic and the military bonds between us have reached an unprecedented level.

When I visited you in Washington, I thought in my heart, America is so great and we are so small.  I learned that you don’t measure us by size, but by values.  Thank you.  When it comes to values, we are you, and you are us.  On occasions when we were alone you stood with us, so we were not alone.  We were alone together.  We shall never forget it.

During your previous visit to Israel, you asked me if I had any advice to offer.  Well, it’s not my nature to let questions go unanswered.  (Laughter.)  So just that while people say that the future belongs to the young, it is the present that really belongs to the young.  Leave the future to me.  I have time.  (Laughter and applause.)

I think I was right, because the moment you came into office, you immediately had to face daunting and demanding challenges day in, day out.  I prayed that you would meet them with wisdom and determination, without losing hope, without allowing others to lose hope.  The prayers were answered — after all, they came from Jerusalem and they came to us as a great message.  It is a tribute to your leadership, to the strength of your character, to your principles, that you have never surrendered to hopelessness.  You stood and stand firmly by your vision.  Your values serve your nation.  They serve our nation as well.

So I know that you will never stop to strive for a better world, as you said today in a good Hebrew — tikkun olam.  We have a rich heritage and a great dream.  As I look back, I feel that the Israel of today has exceeded the vision we had 65 years ago.  Reality has surpassed the dreams.  The United States of America helped us to make this possible.

Still the path to tomorrow may be fraught with obstacles.  I believe that we can overcome them by our determination and by your commitment.  I’m convinced that you will do whatever is necessary to free the world’s horizons and the skies of Jerusalem from the Iranian threat.  Iran denies the Shoah and calls for a new one.  Iran is building a nuclear bomb and denies it.  The Iranian regime is the greatest danger to world peace.  History has shown time and again that peace, prosperity and stable civil society cannot flourish when threats and belligerency abound.

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the Iranian people are celebrating their New Year.  I wish them from the depths of my heart a happy holiday and a real freedom.

Israel will seize any opportunity for peace.  Being small, we have to maintain our qualitative edge.  I know that you responded and will respond to it.  The strength of Israel is its defense forces.  They afford us the ability to seek peace.  And what America has contributed to Israel’s security is the best guarantee to end the march of folly, the march of terror and bloodshed.

We watch with admiration the way you lead the United States of America, the way you have stayed true time and again to your bonds of friendship with us.  Your commitment and deeds speaks volumes about the principles that guides America.  To strive for freedom and democracy at home, but also all over the world, you send the boys to fight for the freedom of others.  What is uplifting is that the United States brought freedom not only to its own people, but never stops, and never will stop, to help other people to become free.

You represent democracy at its best.  You have deepened its meaning — namely that democracy is not just the right to be equal, but the equal right to be different.  Democracy is not just a free expression, but is self-expression as well.

You exemplify the spirit of democracy by striving for justice and equality and opportunity in the American society.  As the world has now become global and yet remains individual, and you offer those principles.  You have shown global responsibility and individual sensitivity.

On Monday night, Mr. President, we shall celebrate Passover, the Festival of Freedom, the Celebration of Spring.  The Celebration of Spring means our journey from the house of slaves to the home of the free that started more than 3,000 years ago. We remember it every year.  We are commended to feel as though each of us personally participated in that journey.  We shall not forget where we came from.  We shall remember always where we are headed, too, which is to make the Promised Land a land of promise, a land of freedom, justice and equality.

While reality calls for vigilance, Passover calls to remain believers.  Israel is an island in a stormy sea.  We have to make our island safe and we wish that the sea will become tranquil.  We converted our desert into a garden.  It was achieved by the talents of our people and the potential of science.  What we have done, Mr. President, can be done all over the Middle East, as you have rightly said tonight.  Israel is described as a start-up nation.  The Middle East can become a start-up region.

Dear President, you noted in your address today that peace is the greatest hope for the human being.  I share your vision.  Your call to reopen the peace process may pave the way for the implementation of the two-state solution agreed by all of us — as you said, a Jewish state, Israel; an Arab state, Palestine.

If I’m not wrong, next to you sits our Prime Minister who was just reelected.  He opened his address in the Knesset by reiterating his commitment to the two-state solution.  Dear friends, I have seen in my life I earned the right to believe that peace is attainable.  As you felt today, I know, this is the deep conviction of our people.  With our resolve and your support, Barack Obama, we shall win and it will happen.

Mr. President, I am privileged to bestow upon you the Medal of Distinction.  It was recommended by a committee of seven prominent Israeli citizens, headed by our former Chief of Justice Meir Shamgar, and includes our former President Yitzhak Navon.  It was my view and I was glad to accept their recommendation.  You inspired the world with your leadership.  Toda raba, Mr. President.  Toda from a grateful nation to a very great leader.

God bless America.  God bless Israel.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  President Peres; Prime Minister Netanyahu and First Lady Sara; distinguished guests and friends.  This is a extraordinary honor for me and I could not be more deeply moved. And I have to say, after the incredible welcome I’ve received over the past two days and the warmth of the Israeli people, the tribute from President Peres, the honor of this medal — I mean, as you say, dayenu.  ((Applause.)

Now, I’m told that the Talmud teaches that you shouldn’t pronounce all the praises of a person in their presence.  And, Mr. President, if I praised all the chapters of your remarkable life, then we would be here all night.  (Laughter.)  So let me simply say this about our gracious host.

Mr. President, the State of Israel has been the cause of your life — through bitter wars and fragile peace, through hardship and prosperity.  You’ve built her.  You’ve cared for her.  You’ve strengthened her.  You’ve nurtured the next generation who will inherit her.

Ben Gurion.  Meir.  Begin.  Rabin.  These giants have left us.  Only you are with us still — a founding father in our midst.  And we are so grateful for your vision, your friendship, but most of all, for your example, including the example of your extraordinary vitality.  Every time I see your President I ask him who his doctor is.  (Laughter.)  We all want to know the secret.

So, with gratitude for your life and your service, and as you prepare to celebrate your 90th birthday this summer — and since I’m starting to get pretty good at Hebrew — (laughter) — let me propose a toast — even though you’ve taken away my wine
— (laughter.)  Come on.  Bring another.

How are you?

SERVER:  Here you are, sir.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A toast — ad me’ah ve’esrim.  L’chaim! (Applause.)  Mmm, that’s good wine.  (Laughter.)  Actually, we should probably get this out of the photograph.  All these people will say I’m having too much fun in Israel.  (Laughter.)

Just a few more words, Mr. President.  You mentioned that this medal is presented in recognition of progress toward the ideals of equality and opportunity and justice.  But I am mindful that I stand here tonight because of so many others, including the example and the sacrifices of the Jewish people.

In a few days, as we do at every Seder, we’ll break and hide a piece of matzoh.  It’s a great way to entertain the kids.  Malia and Sasha, even though they are getting older, they still enjoy it — and there are a lot of good places to hide it in the White House.  (Laughter.)  But on a much deeper level, it speaks to the scope of our human experience — how parts of our lives can be broken while other parts can be elusive; how we can never give up searching for the things that make us whole.  And few know this better than the Jewish people.

After slavery and decades in the wilderness and with Moses gone, the future of the Israelites was in doubt.  But with Joshua as their guide, they pushed on to victory.  After the First Temple was destroyed, it seemed Jerusalem was lost.  But with courage and resolve, the Second Temple reestablished the Jewish presence.  After centuries of persecution and pogroms, the Shoah aimed to eliminate the entire Jewish people.  But the gates of the camps flew open, and there emerged the ultimate rebuke to hate and to ignorance — survivors would live and love again.

When the moment of Israel’s independence was met by aggression on all sides, it was unclear whether this nation would survive.  But with heroism and sacrifice, the State of Israel not only endured, but thrived.  And during six days in June and Yom Kippur one October, it seemed as though all you had built might be lost.  But when the guns fell silent it was clear — “the nation of Israel lives.”

As I said in my speech earlier today, this story — from slavery to salvation, of overcoming even the most overwhelming odds — is a message that’s inspired the world.  And that includes Jewish Americans but also African Americans, who have so often had to deal with their own challenges, but with whom you have stood shoulder to shoulder.

African Americans and Jewish Americans marched together at Selma and Montgomery, with rabbis carrying the Torah as they walked.  They boarded buses for freedom rides together.  They bled together.  They gave their lives together — Jewish Americans like Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner alongside  African American, James Chaney.

Because of their sacrifice, because of the struggle of generations in both our countries, we can come together tonight, in freedom and in security.  So if I can paraphrase the Psalm — they turned our mourning into dancing; they changed our sack cloths into robes of joy.

And this evening, I’d like to close with the words of two leaders who brought us some of this joy.  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was born in Poland and lost his mother and sisters to the Nazis.  He came to America.  He raised his voice for social justice.  He marched with Martin Luther King.  And he spoke of the State of Israel in words that could well describe the struggle for equality in America.  “Our very existence is a witness that man must live toward redemption,” he said, and “that history is not always made by man alone.”

Rabbi Joachim Prinz was born in Germany, expelled by the Nazis and found refuge in America, and he built support for the new State of Israel.  And on that August day in 1963, he joined Dr. King at the March on Washington.  And this is what Rabbi Prinz said to the crowd:

“In the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody’s neighbor.  Neighbor is not a geographic concept.  It is a moral concept.  It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man’s dignity and integrity.”

President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu, friends — our very existence, our presence here tonight, is a testament that all things are possible, even those things that, in moments of darkness and doubt, may seem elusive.  The stories of our peoples teach us to never stop searching for the things — the justice and the peace — that make us whole.  And so we go forward together, with confidence, we’ll know that while our countries may be separated by a great ocean, in the realm of the spirit we will always be neighbors and friends.

I very humbly accept this award, understanding that I’m accepting it on behalf of the American people, who are joined together with you.

May God bless you and may He watch over our two great nations.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
8:44 P.M. IST

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