US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a ceremony at the Knesset on Wednesday that the United States and Israel are allied in the face of the threat from Iran.
“We are together in the fight against terrorism posed by Iran, both in the region and also its nuclear development. The nuclear threat by Iran is a global one. It is a threat to the world,” Pelosi said.
“Israel’s proximity to Iran is a concern to all of us and a responsibility for all of us,” she said.
Talks aimed at restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are continuing in Austria and in an unusual step, Israeli diplomats traveled to Vienna to meet Tuesday with negotiators involved. Israel is not a party to the discussions, and has said it reserves the right to act as it sees fit against Iran’s nuclear program regardless of the negotiations’ outcome.
Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation on a visit to Israel and is joined by fellow Democratic Congress members Adam Schiff, Ted Deutch, Barbara Lee, Bill Keating, Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna and Andy Kim.
Pelosi described it as a “high-powered and very diverse” set of lawmakers, all of whom are supporters of Israel.
The US House speaker said the delegation shows 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 praised US President Joe Biden’s friendship with Israel, which she said has been reflected in his policies over the years.
Briefly addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Pelosi also said she wanted to note the US government’s continuing commitment to “a just and enduring two-state solution.”
“I have long said that the greatest political achievement of the 20th century was the establishment of the State of Israel and I am very proud that America is Israel’s oldest ally,” she said, recalling that her father, also a lawmaker, was a champion for the establishment of the State of Israel.
Pelosi also praised Israel as global leader in the pandemic and said both nations need to address the climate crisis, which is also a security threat.
The delegation was greeted in an official ceremony at the Knesset.
In the visitors’ book at the Israeli parliament, Pelosi wrote: “The security bond between the United States and Israel is ironclad. Our friendship is eternal.”
In remarks in the Knesset plenum addressed to lawmakers from Israel and the US, Speaker Mickey Levy cited the riot at the US Capitol last January as an example of the need for truth and an end to conspiracy theories.
“As the truth becomes one of many alternatives, we are left with brainwashed thugs trying to storm state institutions, confident to the depths of their souls that they are saving the nation,” Levy said.
“Together with you, we watched in shock the harsh sight of the masses storming the Capitol with violence. It is a red light for all the liberal democracies in the world of the real danger of spreading fake news and conspiracy theories. Because if it happened in the United States, it can happen anywhere,” Levy said.
The Knesset speaker also addressed the threat from Iran and the need for Israel and the US to stand together.
“Iran is a terror state whose actions are aimed at wreaking havoc and destruction in every corner of the world. We remember the firm support of the United States for Israel’s security throughout history. We are all here in the Knesset of Israel with a uniform message that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear capabilities,” Levy said.
After attending the plenum, the delegation met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who said he thanked Pelosi for the commitment she and the US have made to Israel’s security.
“We discussed security challenges, especially Iranian aggression, and the need to maintain Israel’s regional security superiority — because only when Israel is strong, can peace and stability be expanded in the region,” Gantz said in a statement after the meeting.
The US group is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and other senior Israeli leaders.
They will also travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
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.
Jacob Magid contributed to this report.