US Vice President Pence wraps up Jerusalem trip with “inspiring” prayer at Western Wall

US Vice President Mike Pence wrapped up a two-day visit to Israel Tuesday with a visit to the Western Wall, calling the ancient site “inspiring” and receiving a stone menorah from officials. Picture by Hillel Maeir/TPS

 JERUSALEM—US Vice President Mike Pence wrapped up a two-day visit to Israel Tuesday with a visit to the Western Wall, calling the ancient site “inspiring” and receiving a stone menorah from officials including Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites.

Earlier, Pence met with President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. The vice president told Rivlin he is optimistic about the future of Israel-US relations and reiterated his message delivered at the Knesset Monday – namely, that President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel “sets the table to move forward for meaningful negotiations.

Pence thanked Rivlin not only for courage and leadership but also for the warm hospitality and cited $45 billion in bilateral trade between the United States and Israel as a foundation for the the close ties between the countries, and reiterated the United States’ commitment to peace in the Middle East as well as his pledge on the Knesset floor yesterday that Washington would “never allow” Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.

Our security collaboration has never been more robust. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism,” Pence said.

Rivlin, for his part, said vice president is a “mentch” – a Hebrew-Yiddish language catch-all phrase for an honest, good person and thanked Pence for his passionate speech in the Knesset plenum Monday in which he emphasised the justice of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The speech was met with near wall-to-wall amongst Jewish Israelis and marred only by a protest by Joint List MKs, who were ejected from the plenum after brandishing signs protesting the new US policy vis-à-vis Jerusalem. The Joint List later condemned Pence’s visit to Israel as an act of solidarity “with the forces of aggression and military occupation forces” and said the speech was a “declar(ation of) war on the Palestinian people and its legitimate rights.”

After meeting with Rivlin, the vice president visited Yad Vashem, accompanied by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a Holocaust survivor.

Pence will depart from Ben Gurion Airport at approximately 5:20 pm.

*With additional reporting by Joelle Lewitan

 

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