July 19 (UPI) — Israeli President Issac Herzog addressed a Joint Meeting of Congress Wednesday, receiving a warm welcome peppered with applause and standing ovations.
Delivering the address from the Capitol building, Herzog said the U.S.-Israeli bond is “unbreakable.”
“Israel and the U.S. will disagree on many matters,” Herzog said. “But we will always remain family. Our bond may be challenged at times. But is absolutely unbreakable.”
Herzog told Congress the United States is Israel’s greatest friend and the nations stand for “the same values of equality, liberty and freedom.” He thanked the United States for their enduring partnership.
The Israeli president declared that Israel is committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities.
He said his “deep yearning” is “for Israel one day to make peace with our Palestinian neighbors.” But he also accused the Palestinians of terrorism.
“It should be clear that one cannot talk about peace while condoning and legitimizing terrorism. True peace cannot be anchored in violence,” Herzog said. “Israel cannot and will not tolerate terror and in this we know we are joined by the United States of America.”
Herzog said he is wholeheartedly committed to a vision of peace with Palestinians without any terror.
He declared that despite multiple serious global challenges facing both nations, he is optimistic about the future. Herzog told Congress it is time to design the next stage of the U.S.-Israeli evolving partnership to elevate it to new levels.
The address comes after the House on Tuesday overwhelmingly comments passed a resolution affirming U.S. support for Israel after Rep. Pramila Jayapal called Israel a “racist” state.”
Referencing her criticism without mentioning her name, Herzog said he “respects criticism from friends, although one does not always have to accept it.”
He commended President Joe Biden for laying out the first national strategy to combat anti-semitism.
Acknowledging the controversial attempt in Israel to weaken the power of the judiciary, Herzog said it is an effort to re-balance Israel’s institutional powers. In a nod to Biden’s request that Israel work toward consensus on the reforms, Herzog said he is doing all he can to help reach a consensus.
Herzog said Israel’s democratic tradition has always been based on a strong and independent judiciary.
“I have great confidence in Israeli democracy,” Herzog said. ” I know our democracy is strong and resilient. Israel has democracy in its DNA.”
As he hailed Israel’s diversity and LGBTQ rights, including large Pride parades there, Democrats responded with a standing ovation while many Republicans remained seated.
Herzog said the Israeli-U.S. relationship is irreplaceable.
“When Israel is strong the United States is more secure,” Herzog said.
His address to the joint session of Congress came as Israel celebrates its 75th anniversary.
“Let us base our next 75 years on shared hope,” Herzog said.
Biden met with Herzog on Tuesday as the two discussed “the special significance” of Herzog’s address to Congress “reflective of the enduring nature of our partnership, one that has transcended numerous U.S. and Israeli administrations,” according to the White House.
“They noted the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship, based on the bedrock of shared democratic values, and discussed the need for a consensus-based approach to the judicial reform package, the White House said in a statement. “The two consulted on key issues of mutual concern, including enhanced coordination to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and Iran’s growing defense partnership with Russia.”