WASHINGTON – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in his address to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington late on Monday that the United States will support Israel if it is attacked by Iran.
"Dangerous provocations will not go unchecked by Israel, America, or our allies," Pence said, adding that, "Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed in the coming months, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately.”
Pence said that the U.S. will also work against Iran’s aggressions in other arenas. "We will not allow the defeat of ISIS to become a victory for Iran," Pence vowed, and promised that the U.S. “will never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
Referring to U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Pence said to loud applause: "President Trump did more than promise – he delivered. In May of this year we will open the American embassy in Jerusalem.
"President Trump made his decision in the best interests of the United States, and this decision is also in the best interests of peace. We chose facts over fiction, and facts are the only foundation for a true and lasting peace. The United States remains fully committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. If both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution.
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"Our team, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, Ambassador Friedman, are hard at work on a peace plan. Any peace will require compromise, but the United States will never compromise the security of the state of Israel," Pence said. "Peace is possible. History records that Israel has made very difficult decisions to achieve peace with its neighbors in the past."
"The winds of change are blowing across the Middle East. Old foes are finding new ground for cooperation," Pence added. He said that he was encouraged by his discussions of peace with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan during his visit to the Middle East earlier this year.
Pence opened his speech with a slip of the tongue, which drew laughter from thousands in the crowd. He told the crowd that he is conveying a message of support from U.S. President Donald Trump, and called Trump "the most pro-life President" ever, instead of "the most pro-Israel president" ever.
Many in the AIPAC crowd are Democrats or moderate Republicans who support freedom to choose on abortions, and the organization, which is officially bi-partisan, does not have an official stance on abortion.
After noticing the reaction, Pence quickly adjusted his comment and praised Trump as "the most pro-Israel president ever," going on to speak at length about Trump's support for the Jewish state in various arenas.
In response to Pence's speech, left-wing U.S. Jewish group J Street said in a statement that, rather than being committed to securing a peace deal, the vice president is committed to pandering to his far-right base. J street accused Pence of "undermining the credibility of American leadership and any chance of progress towards a two-state solution."
The organization called Pence's remarks about withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal "alarming" and said such a move could send the U.S. into another war in the Middle East. "It’s vital that Members of Congress make clear that they will refuse to go along with such a disastrous mistake," J street said.