Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a press Thursday conference about U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “The people of the book have not had a better friend” and added, “Israel has no better friend in the world than the United States of America.”
The two spoke at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Israel, during a visit by Pompeo on Thursday. During his remarks, Netanyahu praised Pompeo’s work and U.S. diplomatic moves with Israel during President Donald Trump’s presidency. Netanyahu noted a number of moves under the Trump administration including withdrawing from the Iran deal, recognizing Israeli claims in border disputes, and recent work to establish peace deals between Israel and neighboring Arab nations.
Speaking of Pompeo, Netanyahu said, “We just had a very intimate and productive conversation overlooking the walls of Jerusalem, and it reminded me of how deep and profound your tie is to the Jewish state. I gave you a Bible as a gift, and I said that the people of the book have not had a better friend, and I mean it.”
In Judaism, the term “people of the book” has been used to refer to the Jewish people.
Netanyahu went on to thank Pompeo and the Trump administration.
“Mike, we worked together closely for these past four years, first when you were CIA director, and then as Secretary of State,” Netanyahu said. “And I think that from those two unique vantage points, you’ve seen firsthand evidence of what I’ve been saying for many years, that the United States of America has no better friend than the State of Israel, and you can attest to that in a variety of ways. But you also worked hard to prove the other thing that I’m saying for many years, and you contributed to it personally mightily, that Israel has no better friend in the world than the United States of America.”
“Over the last four years, under President Trump and his remarkable team led by you and Ambassador Friedman and Jared Kushner and others, Israel’s alliance with the U.S. has reached unprecedented heights,” Netanyahu said. “Thanks to President Trump, the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy here. Thanks to President Trump, the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Thanks to President Trump, the U.S. pulled out of the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran, placed crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime, and eliminated the mega-terrorist Qasem Soleimani.”
“Thanks to President Trump, the United States proposed the first truly realistic plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Netanyahu said. “And thanks to President Trump, Israel was able to forge peace with three Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan.”
Pompeo, speaking later in the press conference, said, “I’m proud of the three Abraham Accords. I’m hopeful and confident there will be more. It was because of your good work, because of the good work of the American team. It was because of great leaders in those three countries who did the right thing. And I’m confident that this will continue.”
Pompeo also took aim at the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement during his remarks.
“Today I want to make one announcement with respect to a decision by the State Department that we will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic,” Pompeo said. “I know this sounds simple to you, Mr. Prime Minister, it seems – it seems like a statement of fact, but I want you to know that we will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct, and withdraw US government support for such groups. The time is right.”
Netanyahu, responding to Pompeo’s comments about the BDS movement said, “It doesn’t sound simple – it sounds simply wonderful to me.”
During his remarks, Netanyahu also took a moment to express his condolences for U.S. troops killed in a helicopter crash in Sinai, Egypt the week prior. The U.S. troops were in Egypt as part of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), which oversees peace relations between Egypt and Israel.
Closing his remarks, Pompeo said, “This is a place that has a special place in my heart and the heart of so many Americans. Bless you. Thank you for your good work alongside the Trump administration. I wish all of us many, many more years of successful partnership between our two countries. Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.”