Remarks by Secretary Mattis and President Rivlin in Jerusalem

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Israeli President Reuven Rivlin


ISRAELI PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN:  Well, it is a real great honor and pleasure to welcome you, to welcome you, Secretary of Defense, not only as the secretary of our greatest ally, but also as a former general.  And not only a general, a real soldier and a leader that you -- that to lead soldiers it means to lead what you call teamwork.

And every one of our former generals are respecting you so much, saying that you was one of the greatest leaders and generals of the army and they are appreciating very much.  I would like to take this opportunity to thanks the Americans and our allies about how helping us and supporting us with the MOU.  Signing the MOU, helping us very much, and I would like really to emphasize that.  Carrying the burden of security that falls on our shoulders, and you know what are those burdens.

And then after the MOU know that every one of us remember the need of the QME, which is something that in Hebrew sounds very good.  Because in Hebrew we have the word “que-me.”  And I know that everyone's paying a lot of intention to this need.

We are very committed to the need to build -- the need of building trust with the Palestinians.  And I know how you are devoted to this mission.  And -- and I believe that the -- our future is to understand that we are not doomed to live together.  Our destiny's to live together.  Never the less, the miss of trust between the two people its make us -- makes it almost impossible to find a way in order to bring to an end not only a conflict, but a real tragedy.

We are living together, we are sharing the same land, we have responsibilities, but we have to trust on each other in order to understand that we can live together.  Unfortunately, for the time being we are wasting a lot, 120 years.  It's not only one side, it's both sides.  But the rejection of many of our neighbors, the Palestinians; our cousins, the Palestinians, to the very idea of the existence of the state of Israel really does not help us in the last 100 years since the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

But I would like to also emphasize that I'm not so sure -- actually I'm not sure at all that bringing to an end the conflict, which is a must, will bring us to any kind of solution to what is going on here in the region.

We have learned in universities and in the army that the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  Unfortunately, not necessarily so; we find ourself in a position that we are surrounded by more than five armies, every one of them is fighting the other one.  No one of them is really feeling a lot of sympathy to the state of Israel.

And that goes on in what is going on here and then now we have new neighbors in the hour.  The -- the Russians and I met President Putin and he was talking to me saying, "You are a very good friend of the Americans."

I say, "I confess."  I agreed with a lot of proud (sic), but I tell them that, we are going to keep every interest that we find as necessary for us in -- all around the world, especially on the Black Sea.

And then we got to understanding about -- with your knowledge, of course, about the (bitters ?) that we had to understand and to find a way in order to cooperate -- on the tactic basis in order to make it possible for all of us to be on the same Earth space when you have the SA-300.

And because of that, Mr. Secretary, I would like to welcome you once again.  You know that we are facing a lot of challenges.  And the need to understand that in the Middle East, there are no shortcuts.  No shortcuts.  Everything -- every challenge is an opportunity.  Never the less, some of the challenges should be handled.  

I would like to thank the president -- former President Obama and President Trump about the understanding of -- the need of -- the needs of Israel.  And we are looking forward and we are looking forward knowing that we have a great friend in the Pentagon and the -- the administration.  And we welcome you with -- from the bottom of our heart.  Thank you so very much.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE JIM MATTIS:  Well, thank you, Mr. President, for making time; I know how busy you are.  But it's an honor and a privilege to be here, the first member of the new administration's Cabinet to visit Israel.  We are committed to Israel's defense, we support Israel's internal security and Israel's external security.

Obviously the week before the Holocaust remembrance time, it's important we all remind ourselves that if good people don't band together and work together across all religious and all ethnic lines, then bad people can dominate and we're not going to allow it.  We're going to work very, very closely.

My view is that relationships do not stay the same; they either get better or they get weaker.  And our commitment is to make these relationships stronger.  The military to military relationship, Mr. President, has always been good.  But I will just tell you that we intend to make it the strongest ever and work with all our friends in the region and elsewhere in terms of security.  

We have two fundamental threats here; one is from terrorism, the other is from Iran.  And we cannot allow those threats to break apart the human connections between those of us who are committed to peace and prosperity and tolerance for each other.  

And we have seen new challenges arise, but as you point out there are new opportunities Mr. President.  And we will work together with you and other like-minded nations; we're not alone in how we look at terrorists.  We're not alone in how we look at Iran's problems.  So it's time for us to all work together, but certainly the enduring relationship with Israel will be stronger every day.

But thank you again for the --

PRES. RIVLIN:  Yes.

SEC. MATTIS:  -- very warm welcome, Mr. President.

PRES. RIVLIN:  God bless --

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you.

PRES. RIVLIN:  God bless you, God bless America, God bless President Trump.

SEC. MATTIS:  Thank you, sir.  Thank -- Mr. President, thank you.