Israel: Central to the Middle East's Future – Secretary Pompeo's Remarks at AIPAC Policy Conference

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SECRETARY POMPEO: Wow, good evening, everyone.

(Cheers.

) What a crowd.

What a crowd.

It’s great to be here.

It is wonderful to be with you all tonight.

I want to say a few thank yous.

My thanks to AIPAC board chairman Mort Fridman, my friend Howard Kohr and your new president Betsy Berns Korn, and all the incredible AIPACmembers and amazing volunteers for putting this amazing gathering together.

Thank you.

God bless you all.

(Applause.

) I’ve been here a few times.

When I was a member of Congress, I got toknow the AIPAC team.

They were relentless.

I came to love them.

(Laughter.

) But it is wonderful, and it never gets oldto be here with so many great friends of the relationship between America and Israel.

(Applause.

) You should know that there is no presidentand no administration that loves Israel more than President Trump and our team.

(Applause and cheers.

) So I was going to walk through the thingswe’ve done in three years, but I’m just going to do since I was here last time, becausewe got to – we all got to get some place tonight.

(Laughter.

) So let’s take a look at what we’ve donejust since the last time I stood right here.

We declared the common-sense truth that theIsraeli West Bank settlements aren’t per se inconsistent with international law.

(Applause.

) We released a groundbreaking Vision for Peace.

(Applause.

) And President Trump took out one of the world’sworst anti-Semites, the terrorist Qasem Soleimani.

(Cheers and applause.

) So the previous administration had a phrasethey used to say.

They used to say that Usama bin Ladin is deadand General Motors is alive.

So that was good.

I think we can do one better: Qasem Soleimaniis dead; and Israel and the United States are alive.

(Cheers and applause.

) What’s really important about that is thatnations of the Middle East and the world are recognizing just how enduring Israel is.

They’re coming to recognize that the morethe Middle East embraces Israel, the brighter their future will be.

And that’s what I want to focus on thisevening.

Under President Trump, Israel is not a pariah, but a partner, and rightly so.

(Applause.

) Our special nations – our special nationsshare so much: a pioneering spirit; basic rights and freedoms, including religious freedomand pluralism; rough-and-tumble politics.

Indeed, Israel loves democracy so much, todaythey are holding their third election.

They cannot get enough of them.

(Laughter.

) And just think of all the benefits that Israelbrings to the region in which it lives.

It’s an example of pluralism and free speech.

(Applause.

) Israel brings a robust, free-market, innovativeeconomy where entrepreneurship is rewarded.

(Applause.

) And it is a place, it is a unique place inthat region, a place where all can worship freely without fear or favor.

(Applause.

) These good things have ripple effects.

You all know this.

A strong democracy sets that example for pluralism.

A productive Israeli economy creates jobs.

And an Israeli society respectful of all faithsshows there is nothing to fear from religious minorities.

Now, not every nation or institution is assupportive of a strong, free, democratic, and prosperous Israel as we are.

But look closely, look closely around theworld, and you will see that the nations of the world are increasingly embracing Israel– the nation-state of the Jewish people – as central to a bright future for theMiddle East.

(Applause.

) In December, Prime Minister Boris Johnsonannounced plans for his government to pass an anti-BDS law.

(Applause.

) That same month, French parliamentarians votedto declare anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, as I spoke about last year.

(Applause.

) Greece and Cyprus have pursued a new energypartnership with Israel, as have Egypt and Jordan.

(Applause.

) Guatemala, Honduras, Nauru have recognizedJerusalem as the capital of Israel, and Brazil says that it intends to do so.

Come join.

(Applause.

) Look, too, at the budding trend in the MiddleEast: Israel’s Gulf nations are warming to her.

In 2018, Oman received Prime Minister Netanyahufor a visit.

(Applause.

) That very same year, the UAE played the Israelinational anthem, “The Hope, ” at a judo tournament hosted in Abu Dhabi, not once, but twice.

(Applause.

) Last year, our Bahraini friends allowed Israelijournalists to visit for the first time since 1994.

(Applause.

) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said, quote, “I believe the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to have their ownland.

” (Applause.

) And I remember being in that room when ambassadorsfrom Oman, Bahrain, and the UAE attended the White House ceremony unveiling the Visionfor Peace, where President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu both offered remarks.

(Applause.

) Now, these are just small examples, just afew glimpses of harmony.

And there is still much more progress to bemade.

But I think these anecdotes suggest a growingattitude, a real shift, a shift among some of Israel’s neighbors.

And the more the Middle East embraces Israel, the brighter its future will be.

That’s true for the entire region.

(Applause.

) As I said earlier, there are some around theworld who still refuse to see Israel’s shining example, or respect Israel’s rights as anation.

The number one state sponsor of anti-Semitismin the world – the Islamic Republic of Iran – is undoubtedly the worst.

The regime continues to stoke hatred of Jewsto serve their own corrupt ends, through classroom textbooks, state media propaganda, and thepoisoned declarations of their unelected leaders.

How sad, given that Iranians gave sanctuaryto Jews during the Holocaust, and helped Jewish families escape persecution in Iraq.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Let me be clear: The world knows – the worldknows that the noble Iranian people do not hate Israel, or Jews, or any other religiousgroup.

(Applause.

) It’s the bigoted, intolerant regime thatdoes.

(Applause.

) And it is that regime – it is that regimeand its views – as the reason that President Trump said so clearly that Iran will neverobtain a nuclear weapon while we’re on watch.

(Applause.

) So who else refuses to respect Israel? Sadly, there are members of Congress who do, too.

In November, I received a letter from 106members of Congress.

They criticized moving the embassy to Jerusalem, closing the Palestinian office in D.

C.

, halting foreign assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, and the rethinking that we did at the State Department about the settlements issue.

Their claim – their claim in this letter– was that this “discredited the United States as an honest broker between Israeland the Palestinian Authority.

” They claimed this “severely damaged prospectsfor peace.

” They claimed that this “endangered the securityof America, Israel, and the Palestinian people.

” You know that discredits the United States.

What damages peace, what endangers security, it’s not recognizing the truth.

The truth must be spoken, and it’s whatPresident Trump and our administration has done.

(Applause and cheers.

) The harm – look, the harm to Israel, theharm to the region, the harm to the relationship between the United States and Israel comesfrom denying that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, by denying that the closing ofthe Palestinian[1] in Washington was 100 percent necessary following President Abbas’ 2017remarks at the UN.

What damages and discredits the United Statesand our relationship with Israel is denying that Palestinian terrorism has been the realobstacle to peace.

(Applause.

) And it discredits this relationship when youdeny that the settlement issue is a political dispute and not a political puzzle, as – andI’ll have more to say about that in just a moment.

And finally, the UN.

The UN’s so-called Human Rights Council, and the High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet.

For those of you who are watching, the councilrecently released a database of companies doing business in East Jerusalem and Israelisettlements in the West Bank.

That release from the United Nations onlyserves to facilitate the BDS movement and delegitimize Israel.

How sad.

I remember reading it after its release.

This is an organization that was set up toensure that no people ever again faced horrors like the Jews faced during the Holocaust, and it is now anti-Semitic.

(Applause.

) This administration was right when PresidentTrump asked us to leave an international institution that grossly betrays its most fundamentalmandate.

(Applause.

) My friends, President Trump and his team aren’tstanding for this nonsense.

We know that the more the Middle East embracesIsrael, the brighter their future will be.

It’s why we’ve taken action against thosewho would harm or weaken Israel.

(Applause.

) We’ve enacted the strongest pressure campaignin history to deprive the Islamic Republic of Iran diplomatic sanctuary, or money forterror.

(Applause.

) We rallied nations in our own hemisphere, here in the Western Hemisphere, and in Europe to declare Hizballah a terrorist organizationin its entirety.

(Applause.

) And we’ve had other nations now join usin banning Mahan Air that has flown around dangerous military actors – the ayatollahs’airline of choice – so that it can’t move around weapons and fighters in the regionthat put Israelis at risk.

(Applause.

) On the settlements issue, on the settlementswe couldn’t be more clear.

We’ve concluded that the Obama administration’swrong approach did not help the peace process or prospects for peace.

(Applause.

) We worked.

We got it right.

We disavowed the Hansell memo of the 1970s, which declared that civilian settlements beyond the Green Line were illegal, just as PresidentRonald Reagan had rejected that memo a few years after it was written.

(Applause.

) And let me remind you that no less than SenatorSchumer said right here at AIPAC in 2018 that “it’s sure not the settlements that arethe blockage to peace.

” (Applause.

) And further on the settlements issue – Iknow some American companies are wondering – some of you here today are wondering howto move forward in the wake of the UN Human Rights Council’s release of the databasethat I just spoke about.

It may not seem like much to some of you, but this is a real threat.

And I am proud to tell you that, this afternoon, the State Department released official guidance on this subject.

Here’s what we said: We said that we share your frustration.

We will continue to work with, trade, andinvest in Israel.

Neither the Human Rights Council nor the Officeof the High Commissioner for Human Rights has the power to tell you what you can andcan’t do business in the West Bank.

Don’t be intimidated.

If you are being subjected to intimidationor harassment because of this database, let America know.

And the United States will respond to takeactions against members of our business community that are being threatened by this releasethat was so sorely mistaken.

(Applause and cheers.

) It’s consistent with all that we have done.

We will stand for a strong, free, democratic, and prosperous Middle East and a prosperous Israel at the heart of that Middle East.

The more the Middle East embraces Israel, the brighter the future will be.

It’s really quite simple.

We stand with Israel.

We stand for peace in the Holy Land.

We stand with the great Israeli people.

And we stand for the unbreakable bond betweenour two great nations, rooted in our shared traditions of freedom and equality.

That tradition goes back to a beautiful biblicalteaching that all humans are created “b’tzelem Elohim, ” “in the image of God.

” (Applause.

) That matters, for it drives all that we dotogether.

And I know that’s what everyone here inattendance tonight believe.

I know that it’s what the members of AIPACbelieve.

It’s what we all believe in.

May God bless this great institution of AIPAC.

May God bless Israel.

And God bless these great United States ofAmerica.

Thank you all.

(Applause.

).

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