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January 21, 2018 1:38 pm

Israeli PM Netanyahu Welcomes ‘Great Friend of Israel’ US Vice President Mike Pence on Official Visit

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US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen wave upon their arrival at Ben Gurion international Airport in Israel. Photo: Reuters/Ammar Awad.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warmly welcomed the arrival in Israel on Sunday of US Vice President Mike Pence.

“This evening a great friend of the State of Israel will arrive in Israel, a true friend, US Vice President Mike Pence,” Netanyahu told the weekly meeting of the Israeli cabinet.

“We will welcome him, I am very much looking forward to our discussions,” Netanyahu said. “We will discuss the efforts of the Trump administration to block Iran’s aggression and the Iranian nuclear program, and of course, advancing security and peace in the region.”

“Whoever truly aspires to realize these goals knows that there is no substitute for US leadership,” the prime minister said, in a barb aimed at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who this week stated his rejection of any US role in the peace process, while contemplating withdrawing Palestinian recognition of Israel at the same time.

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Pence and his wife Karen landed at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday night, following a 36-hour visit to both Jordan and Egypt. Among the dignitaries greeting the couple were Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Pence will deliver an address to the Knesset on Monday. On Tuesday, he will meet with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. During his meetings in Cairo and Amman, Pence stressed that the recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by the Trump Administration did not change the US commitment to retaining the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

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