Eisenhower Executive Office Building
3:54 P.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Well, it is my great honor and joy to welcome President Herzog to my office; to Washington, D.C.; to the U.S. It is so good to see you again in person.
The last time you and I were together — physically together — was in Israel when you gave me a tour of the Knesset. You, in that position, were opposition leader, and I was a United States senator.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: Absolutely.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: And I’ll never forget that day and the time we spent together and what we talked about, in terms of our optimism and investment in the future of the world and, in that context, the importance of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Israel. So, it is very good to see you.
During the course of being Vice President, I think we’ve talked at least four times over the phone —
PRESIDENT HERZOG: We have. Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: — continuing to work on the relationship, the strength of the relationship and the enduring bond.
And as I have made clear, as the President, Joe Biden, has made clear: The United States has an unbreakable bond with Israel, and our commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad.
And throughout my career in public service, I will say that I have worked on this relationship, whether it was when I was district attorney of San Francisco, attorney general of California, or a United States senator.
And I’m particularly excited then, based on the work that we have done together and will continue to do, on the growing partnership we have in innovation, in technology, and our work to address the climate crisis.
President Herzog, as you know, the last time I was in Israel, I spent some time touring the desalination plants and the work that is happening in Israel that really is a model for the rest of the globe, in terms of how we use the best of innovation and science and technology to preserve some of our Earth’s most natural and precious resources. And in that way, the work that you have done has inspired so many here in the United States as well.
To that end, I am also pleased to announce that each of our countries will invest $35 million, for a total of $70 million,
for new food security and climate resilience initiatives. And in particular, we will focus on bringing climate-smart agriculture and technology to the Middle East and to the continent of Africa.
Specifically, this new initiative will deploy Israeli and American technology to farmers and innovators. And the type of work that we are talking about will range from the deployment of new water efficiency technologies to African farms, to the expansion of access to mobile apps, which allow, for example, farmers to monitor crop health and help increase food production as a result.
And, Mr. President, you and I have talked about our work thus far on the African continent. Earlier this year, I was in Zambia and visited a farm there and saw firsthand what climate-smart agriculture is doing, what technology is doing to assist in increasing innovative approaches that will extend the opportunity to address the increasing food security issue that is on that continent.
And the work that we are doing together, of course, will increase yield and crop quality while addressing the climate crisis as well.
The U.S.-Israeli partnership, on this issue, will help make all of this work a reality for farmers across the continent of Africa and throughout the Middle East. And our joint investments in the Middle East will help to strengthen the cooperation between Israel and its neighbors.
In addition, today, to the discussion about those topics, we will discuss our work and our continuing work to promote an integrated and interconnected Middle East. We will discuss the work that we will continue to do with the highest priority to counter the threats posed by Iran.
We will talk about the work we will do to ensure Israelis and Palestinians can live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.
And we will discuss our work to strengthen our respective democracies and democratic institutions.
And with that, I will say, President, it was my honor to be with you virtually and your brother, the ambassador, at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Israel.
And it was a celebration that so appropriately highlighted, for me, in my experience, the profound and important relationship between the United States and Israel, the history of that relationship, and the vision — and our shared vision of the future of that relationship.
So, I thank you again and welcome you.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: Thank you very much, Madam Vice President. It’s a great honor to be here today. And a pleasure, you know, to celebrate not only 75 years of Israel’s independence but 75 years of the special relationship and friendship between our nations.
When I hosted Vice President Harris, she — as she noted correctly, I was head of the opposition; she was a senator from California. And I walked her inside the corridors of the Knesset; showed her the entire Israeli mosaic; and tweeted, quite rarely, how pleased I was because I said Ms. Harris will get to much higher places in American politics.
I’m so happy that I was proven right.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: I am, too. (Laughter.)
PRESIDENT HERZOG: I also want to thank you personally, Madam Vice President, for your lifelong contribution to the bonds between us as well as your husband, the Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff’s work and valiant efforts to combat antisemitism and hatred of all forms.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: And you mentioned, correctly, Iran — I think my speech today in the joint session spoke both about Iran and the challenges as well as the great opportunities that we have in our region in the world as such.
We’ve — we’ve seen the Abraham Accords as a revolutionary breakthrough which opens the imagination and therefore calls for further cooperation in many, many fields.
And I repeat here again: Israel’s hand remains extended and our hearts open to any partner in peace, near or far. This is our deepest aspiration.
And, of course, the remarkable value of cooperation has been evident across many spheres during the 75 years of Israel’s independence.
And I’m so pleased that, as was declared by Madam Vice President, we are harnessing today the broad infrastructure of our cooperation to introduce a new joint initiative to address a primary challenge of our time — which is the climate crisis, with its far-reaching implications and repercussions on l- — on life on Earth and, of course, the — the possibility of nations to thrive and succeed under such complicated circumstances.
I’m very proud that, in Israel, my office has — is behind this nationwide initiative, which is called the Climate Forum. And my forum, the Presidential Climate Forum, which is bringing together stakeholders from across the spectrum — government and public servants, scientists and researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, and civil society activists — to harness their collective brainpower and creativity towards finding solutions that will benefit us all and humanity at large, including countries that were mentioned by Vice President Harris.
And I’ll say that, in our region, I truly believe that climate cooperation can be a major factor in realizing this vision of a renewable Middle East that supplies energy and enables nations to have food and water and ability to function under such complicated circumstances of global climate challenge.
Not long ago, Madam Vice President, you spoke about your childhood memories, collecting donations from the Jewish National Fund — for the Jewish National Fund-Keren Kayemet LeYisrael to plant trees in Israel.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Yeah.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: What a great memory.
Of course, it was an act of love and hope for Israel. But it was also an act that reflected core values of connection with our environment and the desire to harness human ingenuity to turn every challenge into an opportunity. Those intentions as never — have never been more at the critical — critical moment in planet Earth than now.
And I will end with a small Jewish text, which tells the story of God speaking directly to Adam in the Garden of Eden. He introduces Adam to the beautiful trees in paradise and implores him, “Give mind not to harm or destroy my world, for if you are to destroy it, there will be no one to restore it.”
So, we follow in this path. And let’s work together to do well for humanity and, of course, the strong relations between the United States and Israel.
Thank you very much —
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you.
PRESIDENT HERZOG: — Madam Vice President.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you. Thank you.
END 4:04 P.M. EDT