After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted US Vice President Mike Pence at his office in Jerusalem, the two stood in front of reporters and cameras for a few minutes and delivered short statements. Pence said that the US president recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because he believes that it advances the peace process. Netanyahu thanked him for the “historic declaration.”

Pence and Netanyahu, today

Pence and Netanyahu, today Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO

After meeting with the leaders of Jordan and Egypt, US Vice President Mike Pence met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday morning. Pence landed at Ben-Gurion Airport last night after two brief visits to Cairo and Amman. Israel is Pence’s last stop on his first Middle East tour as America’s vice president.

At the beginning of their meeting, Pence thanked Netanyahu for the “warm hospitality” that Israel has shown thus far for him and his wife. “It is my great honor on behalf of the president of the United States to be in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” Pence added. “It’s a great privilege for me to be here.”

According to Pence, he will be discussing with Netanyahu “issues of common concern,” namely strengthening the American-Israeli alliance and confronting the various challenges in the Middle East. However, Pence quickly added that he looks forward to discussing with Netanyahu the prospects of reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Pence defended US President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pence said that Trump recognized Jerusalem because he is convinced that the move will “create an opportunity to move on in good faith negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people on issues that can be discussed.”    

“I am here hopeful…that we are at the dawn of a new era of renewed discussions in order to achieve a peaceful resolution to the decades-long conflict,” Pence added before saying that it is a “great honor” to call Netanyahu a friend.

Watch: Pence and Netanyahu in Jerusalem

The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Trump’s “historic declaration,” thanking the president and Pence for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “This is the first time that we both can say the words, ‘Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,’” he told Pence.