Pence wraps up Israel visit at Yad Vashem, Kotel
VP Pence visits Yad Vashem, Kotel to wrap up visit to Israel; earlier, Pence told President Rivlin recognition 'will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace'; Rivlin responded with, 'Inshallah.'
On the last leg of his sojourn through the Middle East, and the final part of his visit to Israel, US Vice President Mike Pence took a private tour of the Western Wall Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by his wife Karen.
The Pences were given the tour courtesy of Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch but no senior Israeli officials.
The vice president and his entourage are expected to make their way to Ben Gurion Airport later Tuesday to leave Israel on Air Force 2.
Before visiting the Western Wall, the American vice president also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and placed a wreath at the Hall of Remembrance.
Pence was accompanied on his visit to Yad Vashem by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara.
Vice President Pence reiterated earlier Tuesday the Trump administration's belief that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital would lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
"President Trump truly believes that the decision the United States has made to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, we believe, will set the table for the opportunity to move forward in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace and end the decades-long conflict," Pence told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
"Inshallah," Rivlin responded, then explaining to Pence that "it's in Arabic, it means 'with God's help.'"
The American vice president also discussed the United States' "robust" security collaboration with Israel, saying "We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism."
"We also stand together against the threat of the leading state sponsor of terror, Iran," Pence continued. "In President Trump's recent decision to announce that the waiver he will sign on sanctions under the Iran nuclear deal would be the last one, we are sending a signal to our European allies that the time has come for changes in the Iran nuclear deal."
The changes the US seeks "will ensure the sunset provisions in the deal are completely eliminated, and that punitive sanctions will be available for many years to come to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
"You have our commitment (that we would) work closely with our allies around the world to achieve that," he said, adding that "If our allies would not join us, President Trump has made it clear we would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately."
Rivlin praised Pence, telling the American vice president there is only one word to describe him: "You are a Mensch. Now in America, they probably know what is a Mensch, but for the people in Israel who don’t know American or Yiddish, a Mensch is a real human being."
The Israeli president stressed the importance of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, telling Pence, "My mentor, former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, at the time, said that the obvious should be said from time to time, even be written down, and the obvious was said, and we appreciate it very much and see this as a gift on the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel."
Rivlin then recounted his own family's deep roots to Jerusalem, saying "I am a Jerusalemite, son of a Jerusalemite, son of the son of a Jerusalemite, I was born as a seventh generation Jerusalemite to my family, we have come to Jerusalem 210 years ago."
He went on to say that for "100 years we have lived with our neighbors, and our cousins, the Arab community in Jerusalem, in harmony. Unfortunately we are now in a tragedy of sorts, for both of us."
Rivlin lamented the fact there was no trust between Israel and the Palestinians, saying that "In spite of the words that President Abbas used only last week, I must say that we must continue in order to find a way to build confidence between the two peoples."
The Palestinians, Rivlin said, "have to understand that the Jewish people have retuned back to their homeland, not as compensation because of the Holocaust."