Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hosted former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem and discussed the upcoming nuclear agreement with Iran and its implications, as well as the urgent situation in Ukraine.
In an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper, Pence had harsh words for the Biden administration’s handling of nuclear negotiations with Iran as the war in Ukraine unfolds.
“It’s inconceivable that at a time when Putin is committing atrocities in Ukraine, the U.S. administration is negotiating with him on the Iran nuclear issue. The deal that the Biden administration is trying to bring about is dangerous and unacceptable, and there should be no weakening of sanctions due to pressure from Russia at a time like this,” he said.
Pence added, “It would be bad in a peace time to be restarting the Iran nuclear deal, but to literally be working with the Russians to achieve some once again deeply flawed and dangerous agreement with the ayatollahs in Iran is just utterly acceptable. And I believe particularly at such a time as this, the administration in the United States should not be working with Russia to ease sanctions or in any way put Iran back among the community of nations.”
Regarding the war in Ukraine, he said: "Putin must be made to pay. We have to focus international opposition to his invasion and keep exerting pressure until Putin's troops withdraw."
The former vice president landed in Israel Monday afternoon for a series of meetings that could be interpreted as laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run in 2024, according to ALL ISRAEL NEWS Editor-in-Chief Joel Rosenberg.
Pence also met with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, who wrote on Twitter: “Welcome back to Jerusalem, former U.S. Vice President @Mike_Pence and your wife Karen! Thank you for your friendship and support and for always standing with Israel.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Pence visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem along with his wife. They were welcomed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, and Mordechai Eliav, the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
Pence prayed at the Wall and placed a slip of paper in between the stones, according to the custom. He noted that this was his sixth visit to holy site, a place where he felt a sense of sanctity and awe.
“Israel must be strong and that is what we pray for here,” Pence said.
Pence tweeted that he and his wife “are truly blessed to be back in the Holy Land. America Stands With Israel!”
He is expected to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday.
Later in his visit, Pence will attend a ceremony to receive an honorary doctorate from Ariel University, located in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.