PRESIDENT HERZOG: So welcome to Israel, Mr. Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States of America, a great friend of Israel and a great personal friend. It’s wonderful to see you here in Israel again, and I want to convey my gratitude on behalf of the people of Israel to President Biden and Vice President Harris for their words of condolences and strength in a very painful moment we had over the weekend where dear, beloved, innocent citizens of Israel were butchered simply by – for being Jews and Israelis, and for – and I want to thank you for standing by with us in this battle against terror and hate.
I also heard and seen your comments regarding the Israeli internal situation – of course, the constitutional argument that has ensued in the Israeli public, something which I’m heavily devoted to and trying to resolve or lead into a path of an internal dialogue. As you said correctly, this is an issue that requires a wide consensus and it is an issue that many democracies debate on. We are a vibrant democracy – you said it correctly a few days ago – vibrant, very vibrant democracy, and I am very proud of Israelis for dealing with this debate from here and from there, while expressing their opinions. This is so very much important to us. But at the end of it all, we have to resolve our issues amicably internally as societies and nations should do, and this is my main focus these very days.
And finally, there are many bilateral issues. The United States of America is our closest ally. Our bonds with the United States are extremely strong, I would say even transcends politics and the times. It’s simply something that is deeply psychological and emotional. We were so honored to host President Biden here just a few months ago, and then I was so honored to visit him in the Oval Office, and I hope that we will be able to continue and develop the relationship in so many other fields together.
Thank you very much for coming to Jerusalem.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Mr. President, thank you. It’s always a great pleasure for me to be able to spend time with you. I appreciate deeply the partnership, but the friendship as well. And I would simply say again to start, our solidarity in this very difficult moment in the wake of the truly horrific terrorist attack of just a few days ago, I think made even more horrific – if that’s possible, because any terrorism is by definition horrific – by the fact that it took place outside a synagogue and targeted people who were leaving their place of worship. You know our strong solidarity with Israel, with all the people of Israel, when it comes to facing terrorism, and we stand with you as always in that.
I had very good conversations with the prime minister, with the foreign minister, but it’s a particular pleasure as well to be able to spend some time with you. And I would simply say how much we appreciate, Mr. President, your leadership, the clarity of your voice when it comes to working to de-escalate tensions here among communities, the clarity of your voice when it comes to finding a good way forward that builds consensus on the question of judicial reform, and of course your voice, your vision, on so many of the other issues that we’re dealing with together as strong allies and strong partners. So I really welcome the opportunity to spend some time and there’s a lot to talk about.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: Thank you very much.