US House Speaker Pelosi hosted by President Herzog, visits Knesset

February 17, 2022 by Gil Tanenbaum - TPS
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Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has had a full first day as she visits the State of Israel.

President Isaac Herzog hosts Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)

On Wednesday she met with the President of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog, was welcomed at the Knesset and met with several of Israel’s cabinet ministers.

President Herzog hosted Speaker Pelosi at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. Joining their meeting were Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog (the President’s brother); U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, and a delegation of seven Members of Congress: Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee; Rep. Ted Deutch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Global Counterterrorism; Rep. Barbara Lee; Rep. Bill Keating; Rep. Eric Swalwell; Rep. Ro Khanna; and Rep. Andy Kim.

President Herzog welcomed Speaker Pelosi, saying that he was “overjoyed” by her visit and that Israel is grateful to her for the Speaker’s friendship, “which represents so much in the unique relationship between Israel and the United States, an unbreakable bond, and we are very glad that you are here with your husband in Israel, in Jerusalem, in the Holy Land.”

The President and First Lady hosted the Speaker and the Congressional delegation at an official lunch. Also invited was Ofra Fuchs, widow of the late Israeli poet Ehud Manor. Speaker Pelosi quoted Manor’s poetry in her speech on the floor of the Congress after the Capitol Hill attack of 2021.

The President explained that the two were sitting at a table together at the Saban Forum in 2016, and Speaker Pelosi was complaining about the political situation in her country following the elections of that year, and she was a bit depressed. “A year before I had lost the election for the premiership, so I was also a bit depressed,” he said. “I told Speaker Pelosi about the beautiful poem in Hebrew that says: ‘I can’t keep silent in light of how my country has changed her face / I won’t stop trying to remind her / In her ears I’ll sing my cries, / Until she opens her eyes.’”

The Speaker wrote this down on a napkin and asked who had written the poem. She quote a different Ehud Manor Poem in 2021.

Speaker Pelosi said about this, “It really is true, 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. To the beautiful friendship between our countries. God bless Israel, God bless America.”

Earlier in the day Speaker of the Knesset Mickey Levy welcomed Speaker Pelosi and her delegation to the Knesset with a formal reception. Speaker levy addressed the Knesset plenum in her honour, as Speaker Pelosi sat in the visitor’s gallery. He thanked Pelosi for her support for Israel.

Speaker Levy said, “Our nations enjoy a unique friendship based on democratic values and freedoms. The State of Israel recognizes and values your uncompromising efforts to ensure its security and we could not have asked for a better friend than you.”

He thanked Pelosi personally for the passage of the bill to fund the replenishment of interceptors for Israel’s Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System, saying that it will forever be associated with her. He also called it one of the greatest displays of support by the American people and by the United States House of Representatives for the State of Israel.

In a moving gesture, a hundred school children from towns and villages bordering the Gaza Strip were also present in the gallery to honor Speaker Pelosi and thank her personally for supporting to fund Iron Dome interceptors. They waved Israeli and American flags.

In his speech in the Plenum, Speaker Levy also mentioned last years’ assault on US Capitol, “We shockingly watched together in the difficult images of masses violently storming the Capitol. This was a warning sign to all liberal democracies of the real danger of fake news and conspiracy theories. If it happened in the United States, it can happen anywhere. The Knesset stands with you in the defense of democracy and the liberal values we all hold so dear to our hearts.”

At the end of his speech, Speaker Levy introduced the school children from towns and villages bordering the Gaza Strip. “With us are children from southern Israel who are here thanks to the Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System,” he said. “You have chosen to support Israel’s right to defend its citizens, you have chosen to stand by the only democracy in the Middle East and you have chosen to assist Israel to save lives including the lives of every boy and girl who are with us in the plenum today.”

While at the Knesset Wednesday morning Nancy Pelosi met with Minister of Transport and Road Safety Merav Michaeli. They spoke about transportation as a tool for regional development across the Middle East, about the renewal of the Labor Party and about other issues of national importance.

And the US Speaker also met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz. During their discussion, Minister Gantz emphasized the unique and strategic bond between the United States and Israel and thanked Speaker Pelosi for her steadfast support for the security of the State of Israel.

Minister Gantz discussed the most pressing security challenges that Israel faces, starting with Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its regional aggression. Minister Gantz also emphasized the critical need for Israel’s security superiority in order to seek peace with its neighbours.

Gantz stressed the importance of expanding and deepening normalization and peace agreements in the region. He also emphasized his commitment to continue working with the Palestinian Authority.

He later said that it was an honour to meet with Speaker Pelosi and tweeted, “Madame Speaker, thank you for your steadfast commitment to the security of the State of Israel and for supporting the expansion of peace with our neighbors.”

Minister of Environmental Protection Tamar Zandberg also met Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Minister Zandberg and the Speaker discussed the climate crisis and the importance of cooperation between Israel and the US in dealing with climate change.

Zandberg thanked Nancy Pelosi for her support for Israel and her support for peace and expressed her appreciation for the steps the United States is taking as part of tackling the climate crisis. She said that, “the American leadership on the climate crisis is an inspiration for us and for the world. I am full of appreciation that the climate issue is on the focus of the US administration. Our government is also united in tackling the climate crisis, and we are working hard to meet emissions reductions.”

Minister Zandberg and House Speaker Pelosi both said that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge of our generation and agreed that the goal is to leave a cleaner and healthier generation for us and for future generations.

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