U.S. Vice President Mike Pence touches the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence touches the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was met with one standing ovation after another in the Knesset, during his speech rife with Biblical references and expressions of support for Israel and the Jewish people.

Pence said, "We stand with Israel, because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil and in liberty over tyranny. The people of the USA have always held a special affection and admiration for the People of the Book. In the story of the Jews, we've always seen the story of America. It is the story of Exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope." 

Pence, the first U.S. vice president to address the Knesset's plenary, spoke to a packed room.

A devout evangelical Christian, Pence paraphrased Psalms: "The USA is proud to stand with Israel and her people, as allies and cherished friends. And so we will pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that those who love you will be secure, that there be peace within your walls and security in your citadels. And we will work and strive for that brighter future, so everyone who calls this ancient land home shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid."

Pence urged the Palestinians, who are boycotting his visit to the region, to come to the negotiating table.

"We recognize that peace will require compromise, but you can be confident in this: The USA will never compromise on the safety and security of the State of Israel. The USA remains committed to peace," Pence stated, saying that the USA will support a two-state solution if both sides want it.

That comment was met by a standing ovation. The vice president announced that the US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of next year, emphasizing that Jerusalem is Israel's capital.

Pence rapped Iran as the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism, in his speech to Israel's Knesset and used the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" several times, saying it "respects no creed, stealing the lives of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Together with our allies we will continue to bring the full force of our might to drive radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth."

During his speech, Pence waxed poetic about Israel and Jewish history.

"As I stand in Abraham's Promised Land, I believe that all who cherish freedom and seek a brighter future should cast their eyes here and marvel at what they behold. How unlikely is Israel's birth; how more unlikely is her survival?"

Pence said the Jewish people held on to the hope of returning to their homeland over a 2,000 year exile, "through the darkest and longest nights. Tomorrow, when I stand with my wife Karen at Yad Vashem to honor the 6 million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust, we will marvel at the faith and resilience of your people, who just three years after walking in the shadow of death, rose up from the ashes to resurrect yourselves, to reclaim a Jewish future and rebuild the Jewish State."

Speaking on Israel's upcoming 70th Independence Day, Pence said the Shehechiyanu ("who has granted us life") blessing. Pence's blessing was met with a standing ovation from nearly all of the MKs present, as were several other points in his speech.

Barry Segal is the founder of Vision for Israel.

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