FULL TEXT: Trump, Netanyahu Talk Jerusalem, Iran, Mideast Peace at White House

Netanyahu met with Trump to reaffirm the strong state of Israel U.S. relations and to reiterate that Iran is the biggest threat facing the western world

President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, March 5, 2018, in Washington
Evan Vucci/AP

Trump: Thank you very much. It's a great honor to have Prime Minister Netanyahu with us. We have right now probably the best relationship with Israel we’ve ever had. We’re as close now as maybe ever before. Jerusalem was a wonderful thing, and I know it was very much appreciated in a big part of the world, not just in Israel, so that was a decision that I had to make. May presidents were discussing whether or not to make that decision, and they promised it in their campaigns but they never were able to do what they should have done, so I was able to do it, and I think it’s something very much appreciated in Israel, but far beyond Israel. We are very close on trade deals, we are very, very close on military, terrorism, and all of things we need to work together on. So, the relationship has never been better, and Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Netanyahu, it’s a great honor to have you.  

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Netanyahu: Thanks you. Mr. President, Donald, Melania, Sara and I want to thank you for your extraordinary friendship and hospitality. It’s always a pleasure to see you both. This is the first time we met in Washington, America's capital, after you declared, Mr. President, Jerusalem as Israel's capital and this was a historic proclamation following your bold decision to move embassy by our upcoming national independence day. I want to tell you the Jewish people have a long memory, so we remember the proclamation of the great Cyrus the great, Persian king, 2500 years ago, he proclaimed that the Jewish exile in Babylon could come back and build our temples in Jerusalem. We remember 100 years ago, Lord Balfour who issued the Balfour declaration that recognized our rights of the Jewish people in our ancestral homeland. We remember 70 years ago when Harry S. Truman was the first leader to recognize Israel as the Jewish state and we remember a few weeks ago when Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. President, this will be remembered throughout the ages. As you just said, others talked about it; you did it. I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel. I look forward to our discussions on challenges and opportunities.

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If I had to say what the biggest challenge is to both our countries it’s encapsulated in one word: Iran. Iran has not given up its nuclear ambitions. This nuclear deal emboldened, enriched, is practicing aggression everywhere including our own border. We have to stop this country that chants ‘death to Israel’ ‘death to America,' Iran must be stopped. That is our common job.

The second thing, because of that challenge, is to exploit the opportunity for peace, for Israel has never been closer to the Arabs, the Arabs have never been closer to Israel, and we need to use that to broaden our talks with the Palestinians. But I just want to reiterate what I said--   

Mr. President, I've been here nearly 4 decades, talking, seeking to build the America and Israel alliance. Under your leadership, it’s never been stronger, and the people of Israel see your position on Jerusalem, your position on Iran, they see your magnificent defense of Israel and the truth at the UN. I, as PM, see something that you as president can see but that others can’t see: the extent of our intelligence and other cooperation, matters that are vital to the security of our people. Mr. President I want to say, Thank you for your leadership, and thank you for your tremendous friendship

Journalist: Will you visit Israel for the new embassy?

Trump: they have started construction and I may [visit Israel], we’ll be talking about that. We’ll have it built very quickly, a lot of people wouldn’t be doing it quickly like that, very quickly and very inexpensively. They put an order in front of my desk for a billion dollars, I said a billion? What’s that for. We’re not gonna [going to] spend a billion dollars. We’re actually doing it for about 250,000 dollars. So check that out, it’ll be very nice. 250,000 dollars versus a billion dollars. Is that good? We’re looking at coming if I can, I will, Israel is very special to me, special country, special people, I look forward to being there and I’m very proud of that decision.

Journalist: When will you present your peace deal?

Trump: We’re gonna [going to] see. We’re working on it very hard. Look, It would be a great achievement, even from a humanitarian standpoint what [could be] better if we could make peace between Israel and the Palestinians- I can tell you we’re working hard on doing that and I think we have a very good chance. The biggest difficulty that anyone has had, you look over 25 years, no one could get past number one - Jerusalem. We couldn't get past it. We’ve taken it off the table, so this gives us a real opportunity for peace. We’ll see how it works out with Palestinians, who I think are wanting to come back to the table very badly, If they don’t you don’t have peace, you don’t have peace. If they don’t come, you don’t have peace, and that’s a possibility also. That can happen. Everybody said this is the hardest deal to make of any deal, like in business, you say ‘ugh, this is almost as bad as Israel and the Palestinians! You use it as, like, an example. This is the hardest deal, this is years and years of opposition and frankly hated, lots of things beyond the land. If we could do peace between Israel and Palestinians that would be a great thing for the world, a great thing for this country and for everybody, we’re working hard and we have a shot at doing it.

Thank you all, I appreciate it.