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Presenter: Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Press Conference

Location: Unknown

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Mr. Secretary, Chuck, welcome to Jerusalem.

I'd like to express my deep appreciation and that of the people of Israel for the close defense and intelligence relationship and cooperation between Israel and the United States.

We're also deeply grateful for your steadfast support for Israel's security and, most especially, for the missile defense cooperation. It's been a remarkable partnership. And we very much appreciate your support for Iron Dome, recently expanded, as well, for the support for David's Sling, for the Arrow 3 missile, for the joint exercise that you visited yesterday for missile defense. This is deeply appreciated.


PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: And we're deeply grateful for you.

Obviously, we're going to discuss many subjects, but foremost, I think, is the danger posed to both our countries and to the peace of the world by Iran's pursuit of developing nuclear weapons. We've been saying all along that Iran is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. So I wasn't surprised, and I'm sure you weren't surprised, by the recent U.N. [United Nations] report on Iran's ongoing efforts to deceive the international community, to continue to develop its ICBMs and to continually violate its commitments of Security Council stipulations on forbidding it to develop certain parts of its nuclear program. They continue to do that. And I think that requires a very clear and firm policy on the part of the world powers, the P5+1.

I think as the talks with Iran continue, one thing must guide the international community and that is we must not let the ayatollahs win. We mustn't let the foremost terrorist state of our time, Iran, develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

You come here in turbulent times. I wish it were less turbulent. One of the things that we have found, unfortunately, is that our Palestinian neighbors are moving ahead in a pact with Hamas. And the United States has designated Hamas, rightly, as a terrorist organization. And obviously, the Palestinians cannot have a pact with Hamas and peace with Israel.

We're concerned too, that in both Gaza and in the P.A.-controlled areas, there is continual incitement and propaganda against the very existence of the Jewish state. A recent ADL [Anti-Defamation League] study published a few days ago talks about the fact that in both places anti-Semitic incitement is the most prevalent on the planet and that is something that, I think, hinders peace. I think the Palestinians have to make a simple choice, a pact with Hamas or peace with Israel, but they can't have both.

There are many other things that we are going to discuss, how to advance genuine peace and how to advance solid security in a region that is so fraught with instability and insecurity. And I think that one of the things that creates an anchor of security is the close relationship between Israel and the United States, a relationship that is based both on value and a common determination to uphold our joint security. So in that spirit, I look forward to our discussions and I welcome you to Jerusalem.

SEC. HAGEL: Thank you.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, thank you. Bibi, I am grateful for an opportunity to see you again and renew our friendship.

As you said in the United States earlier this year, America's support for Israel is at an all-time high and it is. And that applies especially to our defense relationship. Our defense relationship is strong, as we both know, and I think the people of Israel and the United States know, it's strong because it's about a lot more than defense.

The United States support for Israel is anchored in our nation's commitment to democracy and freedom and rights for our people. America's commitment to Israel's security is resolute. And as you noted, the military exercise that I visited yesterday, with Defense Minister Ya'alon demonstrates that commitment very completely. It also demonstrates the cutting-edge work our nations are doing together on rocket and missile defense and I appreciate your comments on that point -- work that had strengthened Israel's security and saved lives.

And I want to assure you, Prime Minister, and the people of Israel, of the United States continued commitment to ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, as President Obama has said, and that America will do what we must to live up to that commitment.

Later today, I believe as you know, I will pay tribute to Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin, men that you know so well, who embodied the values at the core -- at the core of our historic relationship. Those values are about the fundamental recognition that in Prime Minister Rabin's words, we are all people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, to live side by side in dignity, in empathy as human beings, as free men.

Every time I visit Israel, Bibi, I think of the astounding accomplishments of Israel in all spheres of society. And thanks to the continued courage and wisdom of its founders and your leaders, the fortitude and resilience of your people, and the long and enduring friendship between our two countries, that progress will continue.

And thank you again, Mr. Prime Minister, for hosting me here this morning. I look forward to our conversations this morning and an opportunity to delve deeper into some of the issues that we discussed. Thank you.


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