On eve of Pence visit, Netanyahu says 'no substitute' for U.S. leadership

The prime minister called Pence a “great” and “true” friend of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting on VP of US Mike Pence's visit to Israel, January 21, 2018. (Reuters)
There is no substitute to US mediation in the diplomatic process, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the opening of the cabinet meeting, hours before US Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to arrive for a two day visit.
In an apparent reference to the Palestinian Authority's decision to boycott Pence, Netanyahu said that “those who truly aspire to these goals [regional stability] know that there is no substitute for US leadership.”
Netanyahu called Pence a “great” and “true” friend of Israel. The talks will focus on efforts of the Trump administration to curb Iranian regional aggression and its nuclear program, as well as promoting security and peace in the region.
The prime Minister described the decision by the Arab party in the Knesset, the Joint List, to boycott “and even disturb” Pence's scheduled address to the Knesset on Monday as a “disgrace.”
“We will all be there to give Vice President the great respect he deserves,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister, who returned Friday from a five-day trip to India, described the reception he received there as being exceptional “in its intensity and warmth,” something that reflect his close ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as the strong bond between the two countries. He sid the visit will contribute a great deal to Israel's security, and economy.
The two most moving moments of the trip, Netanyahu said, were his visit to the Chabad House in Mumbai with Moshe Holtzberg, the then toddler – who is now 11 – who was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel during the terrorist attack there a decade ago.
He also said he was moved by his meeting in Mumbai with representatives of the small Indian Jewish community. “Their contribution is disproportionate to their numbers,” he said, noting that the vast majority of the Indian Jewish community immigrated to Israel.
Netanyahu said that some of those who met him “cried with joy” during the meeting, not because there was any antisemitism in India – there never has been any, he said – but but because they have been yearning for a meeting of the “cultures, the nations and the peoples” for years, and it was now taking place before their eyes.
Netanyahu said that later this week he will travel to Davos to take part in the annual economic forum there. “Israel is a global technological power,” he said.
“We are cultivating this true strength and are promoting it in many forums,” he said. “This forum is the main global economic forum. I will meet there with a long list of heads of state and of major corporations; they are no less important today.”