(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Following are the statements made this morning (Tuesday, 23 April 2013), by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, prior to their meeting at the former's office in Jerusalem:
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Secretary Hagel, Chuck, welcome to Jerusalem again, but this time in your current capacity as Secretary of Defense.
This is a special welcome. In the last four years, we’ve greatly enhanced the defense and security relationship between Israel and the United States, and I am absolutely confident that we will continue to further strengthen this under your stewardship of the American defense establishment. This is important because we face many challenges, as you well know, and I look forward to discussing with you how we overcome these challenges in our continued cooperation.
Israel appreciates deeply, the support, the military and security support, that it enjoys from the United States – it reflects a very deep alliance between our two countries and the defense of our common interests and our common values.
Nowhere are these values and interests challenged more than by the arming of terrorist groups by Iran with sophisticated weapons, and equally, Iran’s attempt to arm itself with nuclear weapons. This is a challenge that Israel cannot accept, and as you and President Obama have repeatedly said, Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. In any case, it is good to have you in Jerusalem. It is good to have the support, friendship and alliance of the United States. We deeply appreciate it.
Welcome to Jerusalem."
US Secy. Of Defense Hagel: "Thank you. Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you. I am grateful for your personal courtesies, hospitality and personal relationship. I'm also pleased to be back in Israel. As you have noted, I have been here many times.
My first trip was in the late 1980's when I was president of the USO, and I've always appreciate this country, the people, the leadership and the courage that you represent and what has been produced in Israel. It is a model for the world, and the relationship between our two countries, just as you have noted, is as strong as it's ever been, not only measured by the military-to-military, all the other metrics that apply to relationships, but as you also noted, Prime Minister, it is based on common values and respect for others, and that is the foundation of any relationship.
You noted that the region is not getting any less complicated. This is a difficult and dangerous time. This is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever. I'm committed to continue to strengthen this relationship, secure this relationship, and as you know, one of the main reasons I'm here is to do that. I've had very good conversations the last two days with your Defense Minister. I had a good conversation with President Peres yesterday. I was able to take a long tour up in the north and the eastern borders here, and once again it reminds me of the dangers and difficulties and challenges.
But I believe together, working with our allies and our friends, we will be able to do what is right for your country, my country, and make this region a better region and a more secure region, and make Israel more secure. So I look forward to our conversation, and thank you for your many courtesies in welcoming me to Israel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Let's go work."