August 16, 2022

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Israeli President Isaac Herzog Before Their Meeting

4 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Israel Presidency

PRESIDENT HERZOG:  So shalom, welcome, Secretary of State Antony, Tony, Blinken, a good friend, a long-time friend, and a great friend of the State of Israel.  Your visit means a lot to us, and we welcome you whole-heartedly here in Jerusalem.  And we congratulate you for joining this wonderful summit which will take place today, the Negev Summit, which will include foreign ministers from regional states that are so important to this unified front, which has been built in the region, which is based on the Abraham Accords, and which moves forward in peace and mutual cooperation and respect.

I want to commend Foreign Minister Yair Lapid for convening this summit, and wish him success in this very important gathering.  We will work together to find further regional cooperations, and for the benefit of all peoples in the region, and the benefit of peace, and, of course, preventing any threats against Israel, as well as my own personal commitment to move forward and try to help in all relevant cooperations and activities that are pushing forward together with our friends and allies in this region.

I will conclude by saying, Foreign Minister, that – Foreign Secretary, that we all welcome you here not only because you are a friend, but also because the United States is Israel’s most important ally and closest friend in the world.  And we see you as friends and part of the family.  Thank you very much.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much, Mr. President.  It’s wonderful to be with you, it’s wonderful to be in Israel, it’s wonderful to be here in this very special place.  And it’s also an honor.

To your point, this evening, when we head to the Negev, what is happening there is something that I think would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.  And what we’re seeing is normalization become the new normal for this region.  And I think it’s going to attract more and more countries, as they see the benefits of these partnerships among so many of the leading countries in – from the region.

The United States is very proud to be a part of that, to support the efforts to deepen the partnerships with countries that have already normalized with Israel, and to help seek new partners, and to make sure that, as we’re working together, we’re doing it in a way that, of course, stands up for our common security – because we face common challenges – but also finds ways to make meaningful difference in the lives of our citizens.

And that’s the tremendous opportunity of what is coming together in the Negev later today:  the opportunity to work together, invest together in infrastructure, in global health, in dealing with climate change, renewable energy, bringing our businesses together, bringing our people together.  It’s an incredibly powerful and positive vision for the future, and Israel is making that real, and I applaud that.

And I also have to say, Mr. President, how much we applaud the leadership of this government, including, for example, on trying to bring an end to Russia’s horrific aggression against Ukraine.  Prime Minister Bennett has made important efforts to see if there’s a diplomatic path forward.  We applaud them.  We applaud the support that you’re providing, including the humanitarian hospital, a field hospital in Israel that is set up that is able to see directly, by a video link with –

PRESIDENT HERZOG:  Yes, I spoke to them on Friday night, (inaudible) congratulated them all.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s a wonderful thing.

PRESIDENT HERZOG:  Yes.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And, of course, there is much to discuss about the relationship to Palestinians, and our support for them, and the work that’s being done to try to improve their lives, as well.

So lots to talk about.  But for me it’s always especially wonderful and meaningful to be in Israel.  The United States has a deep attachment to this country, to this relationship, to this partnership, to this alliance.  We have a sacrosanct commitment to Israel’s security.  President Biden reaffirmed that again recently with the provision of $1 billion for Iron Dome, something that has saved lives in the past and, if necessary, will do so in the future.

And I will just say simply, in concluding, it’s also very meaningful to me on a personal level, as well.  So thank you.

PRESIDENT HERZOG:  Thank you very much.  I – no, I will just say to all the visitors in the Negev Summit:  Secretary of State Tony Blinken, foreign ministers of the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain, and Egypt.  (In Hebrew.)  We welcome you all to the State of Israel.  (In Hebrew.)  Thank you.

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