President Isaac Herzog hosted US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, as a Democratic Congressional delegation completed the first day of its trip to Israel.
Herzog welcomed Pelosi, a staunch supporter of Israel, and thanked her for the role she has played in establishing the relationship between Israel and US.
“Welcome, madam speaker, Nancy Pelosi. We are really overjoyed that you are here in Israel and we are grateful to you for your friendship, which represents so much in the unique relationship between Israel and the United States,” Herzog said, referring to the relationship as an “unbreakable bond.”
“Thank you so much, Mr. President. It’s wonderful to see you and Michal again,” Pelosi said of Herzog and his wife.
Herzog and Pelosi were joined by Ofra Fuchs, widow of the late Israeli poet Ehud Manor, who Pelosi quoted in a speech on the floor of the Congress after the January 6 Capitol attack.
Herzog said he had quoted Manor’s poem “I Have No Other Land” to Pelosi in 2016 when they were both experiencing political troubles. She wrote it down on a napkin and eventually quoted it to Congress.
“I can’t keep silent in light of how my country has changed her face, won’t quit trying to remind her. In her ears, I’ll sing my cries until she opens her eyes. I can’t keep silent of how my country has changed her face,” she said, urging Republican lawmakers to take action against then-president Donald Trump.
Herzog’s statement said he closed his Wednesday meeting with Pelosi with another, more uplifting poem by Manor called “To Follow Captive in Your Footsteps.”
“To follow captive in your footsteps, to inhale your searing sun, to dream beneath the heavens, to be in your pain, then fall in love again,” the poem says.
Herzog said Fuchs’s presence at the lunch was “a privilege, and a tribute to the beautiful power of words and poetry.”
“The arts bring us together. Somehow there is a way, where the inspiration and shared values enable us to forget some of our differences. To the beautiful friendship between our countries,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi also said during the meeting that Congress is expected to pass a bill for funding the Iron Dome system as soon as next month, according to the Kan public broadcaster.
Joining the meeting were Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, and a delegation of seven other Democratic Members of Congress: Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Rep. Ted Deutch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism; Rep. Barbara Lee; Rep. Bill Keating; Rep. Eric Swalwell; Rep. Ro Khanna; and Rep. Andy Kim.
The US delegation headed by Pelosi was greeted in an official ceremony at the Knesset on Wednesday morning.
She said the American delegation reflected a “bipartisan commitment to an unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States built on mutual security, our economic interests and our common values and commitment to democracy.”
She also highlighted the US-Israel alliance against “terrorism posed by Iran, both in the region and also its nuclear development.”
The US group is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and other senior Israeli leaders.
Pelosi is considered a staunch supporter of Israel and maintains close relations with the US Jewish community.
Her arrival comes on the heels of a visit by Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham, who said he and Israeli officials discussed the idea of placing “guardrails” around Iranian nuclear ambitions and raised concerns about the emerging terms of a resumed deal with the Islamic Republic.