U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived at the Knesset on Wednesday as part of her first official visit to Israel in over two years.
Pelosi and a delegation of Congress members arrived in the country on Tuesday, with the Iran talks in Vienna sure to be on the agenda.
Pelosi signed the guestbook at the Knesset's Chagall Hall, writing that the security ties between Israel and the U.S. are stable and strong, and that “our friendship is eternal.”
Speaking at the Knesset, Pelosi said that she has long considered the establishment of Israel to be “the greatest political achievement of the 20th century,” and that Israel and the U.S. are both “hard at work to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.”
Pelosi stated that the U.S. is “iron clad” in its support of Israel's security and stability in the region.
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Referring to the House vote to provide additional funding for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system in September, Pelosi said “we're hoping to get that done very soon in the Senate.”
Pelosi assured the Knesset that the U.S. stands by Israel in the fight against terrorism posed by Iran as well as its nuclear development, adding that “the nuclear threat of Iran is a global one, it's a threat for all of us.”
The House Speaker affirmed the United States's position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by referencing the resolution passed by the House of Representatives in December 2019. “Only the outcome of a two-state solution can both ensure the state of Israel's survival as a Jewish and democratic state, and fulfills the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state of their own,” she quoted the resolution.
Pelosi went on to reiterate the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
“In all the challenges we face,” she said, “the relationship between the Knesset and Congress is crucial and ongoing.”
Pelosi also met with President Isaac Herzog at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. In his welcoming statement Herzog thanked Pelosi for her visit and describe the Israel – U.S. relationship as an "unbreakable bond", adding: "we are grateful to you for your friendship, which represents so much the unique relationship between Israel and the United States."
The two discussed the work of the late Israeli poet Ehud Manor, whose poem Pelosi quoted in her speech on the floor of the Congress after the Capitol Hill attack of 2021.
"It really is true," Pelosi said, "and we’ve discussed this, that the arts bring us together. Somehow there is a way, where the inspiration and shared values enable us to forget some of our differences."
The House Speaker is accompanied on her visit by key lawmakers on foreign relations, appropriations, and intelligence – including Reps. Adam Schiff, Ted Deutch, Barbara Lee, Bill Keating, Eric Swalwell, Ro Khanna and Andy Kim.
Pelosi, who once praised the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as a “diplomatic masterpiece,” arrived in Israel just as U.S. efforts to reenter the agreement reach an inflection point.
While the Biden administration has adopted a notably more optimistic tone about the prospects of an agreement over the past several weeks, top Democrats are in open disagreement about the best way to engage with the Iranian nuclear threat. Republicans, meanwhile, are threatening to scuttle any potential reentry into the deal, forecasting the political battle on the horizon.
Pelosi's visit comes days after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed Iran in a phone call. This was followed by Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata’s flash visit to Washington, where he met with his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.