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Biden News Conference Amid Crises In U.S. And Abroad. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 14, 2022 - 07:30   ET




HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first off, just the name of it -- the Jerusalem Declaration -- for the United States, it was so important that president -- former President Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And it's important to them that President Biden has not rolled that back -- has not moved the embassy that was moved to Jerusalem -- has not moved it back to Tel Aviv. So even the name of this declaration -- calling the Jerusalem Declaration will likely be seen as a win for Israel.

Now, important for Israel in this is that we are going -- is that there is an American commitment to Israel's defense -- to its qualitative military edge -- as well as a commitment to never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. And the recognition that Israel needs --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hadas, I'm going to interrupt you. I'm going to interrupt you, Hadas, because they're about to have their opening statement beginning, I think with the prime minister of Israel.

YAIR LAPID, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: -- famous march from Selma to Montgomery. Walking beside him in the front row was a Jewish rabbi, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. When he returned home that day, Rabbi Heschel wrote in his diary "Today I felt my legs were praying."

In the state of Israel, Mr. President, our legs pray every single day. Nothing in our lives is taken for granted. My father was a Jewish child in the Budapest ghetto, hiding from those who tried to kill him.

The fact that I am standing here today did not happen by itself. We learned a lesson, Mr. President. At all times, Israel must be strong, free, and safe with a powerful army that can defend our citizens.


Be it Joshua crossing the Jordan River or Dr. King crossing the Alabama River, the principle is the same. If you want your independence your hands must defend you and your legs must pray for you. You must march fearlessly towards the river. This past year, with Russia's unjustified invasion of Ukraine, with the Iranian nuclear threat becoming more dangerous, and with the threats of terrorism worldwide, we were all reminded of something. In order to protect freedom sometimes force must be used. Nobody wants that but neither can we shy away from it on the side of terrorists and people who will not hesitate to exploit any weakness -- people who do not play by the rules.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be born free people sometimes do not understand the intensity of the hatred behind the attack on democracy. What did we do to them? What makes them crash planes into skyscrapers in New York and fire rockets at kindergartens in the city of Sderot? The answer is fear.

What scares them the most is that their citizens, their people can see us -- can see our quality of life, the dynamism and creativity of our economy, the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Our way of life is what threatens them.

It's what makes the Iranian regime develop its nuclear program, Hezbollah aim its missiles at us, and terrorist organizations worldwide send suicide bombers. They want to destroy the only Jewish state in the world. We will never let that happen.

Words will not stop them, Mr. President. Diplomacy will not stop them. The only thing that will stop Iran is knowing that if they continue to develop their nuclear program the free world will use force. The only way to stop them is to put a credible military threat on the table.

You have said many times, Mr. President, that big countries do not bluff. I completely agree. It should not be a bluff but the real thing. The Iranian regime must know that if they continue to deceive the world they will pay a heavy price.

Here in the Middle East, we have an alternative now. It is growing and gaining power. We are creating an alliance of moderate countries that believe in peace. That believe that our children deserve the opportunity to live a better life from here -- from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the state of Israel.

You will travel to Saudi Arabia. Your visit to Saudi Arabia is important for Israel and for the entire region for our security and for the future and prosperity of the Middle East. We send with you to all the nations of the region, including, of course, the Palestinians, a message of peace. Israel wants peace and believes in peace.

We will never yield an inch of our security. We are obligated to be cautious at every step, but to any country, any nation that wants peace and normalization with us, we say Aleichem, Shalom -- welcome.

Mr. President, you will meet with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Iraq. I would like you to pass them all a message from us. Our hand is outstretched for peace. We are ready to share our technology and experience. Ready for our people to meet and learn about one another. Ready for our scientists to corroborate and our businesses to cooperate. [07:40:00]

The book of Psalms says all of this in one verse. Chapter 29 reads (speaking foreign language). "The Lord will give strength to his people. The Lord will bless his people with peace."

If we are strong, if we are determined, if the world understands that we will not hesitate to defend ourselves and our values, peace can come.

Mr. President, our relationship runs deep. It crosses party lines. It connects not only our governments but also our people. This friendship is one of the cornerstones of Israel's national security. It is moving and it is certainly not taken for granted.

Throughout all your years in public service, you were one of the chief architects of this relationship. For that, you have the everlasting gratitude of the people of Zion. Thank you, Mr. President.


(Audio gap) statement.

I'm honored to be back here in the capital of Israel. As I said yesterday, I have met with every prime minister since Golda Meir, and it was a pleasure to be able to spend some time with you today and to get to know you better.

Mr. Prime Minister, a deep love and respect for Israel has only taken a deeper hold on my heart and my gut since I first visited here back in 1973 as a young senator. I'm returning for my 10th visit as president -- this time as President of the United States.

But I've never forgotten what Prime Minister Meir told me when I was a brand-new junior senator from the state of Delaware. It was just weeks before the Yom Kippur War and she could see on my face that I was worried.

As we stood before the press taking questions and pictures, she looked at me and without (INAUDIBLE) she said, "Don't look so worried, Senator. Israel has a secret weapon." And I looked at her as I turned my head and she was going to tell -- I just looked at her. She said, "We have nowhere else to go."

I'll never forget what she told me. That was nearly 50 years ago - 50 years ago. The threats then were real and the threats to Israel remain real today.

The scourge of anti-Semitism still marches around the world. We must never forget the horrors to which an unchecked hatred can lead. And that's why I immediately -- when I returned, I wanted to visit Yad Vashem when I landed yesterday to bear witness, to remember, to renew our vow of never, never again.

At the same time, the Israeli - the Israel of today is not the Israel of 50 years ago. You've cultivated new resources, capabilities, and new relationships, including a growing integration with neighbors in the region. You have new tools that keep Israel strong and secure.

You have an ironclad commitment from the United States of America to Israel's security -- an ironclad commitment. We'll make sure that Israel can defend itself by itself.

When I was vice president under President Obama, we passed a record- setting agreement for Israel's security -- $38 billion over a 10-year period. And I was proud. But last year, we also provided an additional $1 billion to replenish Israel's Iron Dome supplies, making 2022 the largest single year of military assistance that Israel has ever received.

Yesterday, I viewed some of Israel's Iron Dome technology, as well as a very promising new Iron Beam technology -- a laser-enabled missile defense system. These technologies and advancements are critical. They're critical because every rocket that is intercepted is a potential life, and perhaps more, that has been saved.

And as we move forward together, partners in both security and in innovation, the United States and Israel defense sectors will cooperate in new, high-energy laser weapon systems that can defend Israel -- Israeli lives, as well as lives of American service members.

Israel and the United States also stand together to defend fundamental values and underwrite global security, prosperity, and freedom not just for us but for many around the world.


And Putin's assault on Ukraine is a challenge to the peace and stability everywhere in the world. Putin's war must be a strategic failure and the free world must sustain our resolve to help Ukraine defend its democracy. The United States will continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people who have been devastated and displaced by the Russian violence.

Today, you and I also discussed the commitment to ensuring Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. This is a vital security interest to both Israel and the United States, and I would add for the rest of the world as well. I continue to believe that diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome. And we'll continue to work with Israel to counter other threats from Iran throughout the region, including support for terrorism and a ballistic missile program that continues, and the proliferation of weapons to terrorists from proxies like Hezbollah.

We'll also continue building on the Abraham Accords, which I strongly support because they deepen -- they deepen Israel's integration into the broader region and establish lasting ties for business, cooperation, and tourism.

We've just completed the first leaders' summit among Israel, India, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates to deepen the economic ties between the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific to create new partnerships. To tackle global challenges like food insecurity and clean energy technology. Regional integration is also the goal of the historic Negev Forum,

which took place here in Israel this past March. Israel's integration in the region, Israel's peace with its neighbors -- these are essential goals.

Tomorrow, I'll be the first American president to fly from Israel directly to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That represents important progress.

And when I see the Saudi leadership tomorrow I'll be carrying a direct message -- a message of peace and extraordinary opportunities that a more stable and integrated region could bring to the region and, quite frankly, the whole world.

As we work together for great integration -- greater integration, we'll also continue to work for -- toward a lasting negotiated peace between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people. Israel must remain an independent, democratic, Jewish state -- the ultimate guarantee and guarantor of security of the Jewish people of not only in Israel but the entire world. I believe that to my core.

And the best way to achieve that remains a two-state solution for two people, both of whom have deep and ancient roots in this land living side-by-side in peace and security. Both states fully respecting equal rights of their citizens. Both people enjoying equal measures of freedom. And any more it takes us further from that outcome, I believe anything is detrimental to the long-term security of Israel.

Prime Minister Lapid, Israel and the United States are natural partners because we share the same values. Our people share the same innovative spirit. The same determination to preserve and persevere through every single challenge.

That's why we're launching a new high-level strategic dialogue on technology that's going to help Israel and the United States, harness critical and emerging technologies, and apply them to issues that matter most to our mutual futures.

So, thank you, Mr. President, for welcoming me back, for fostering enduring bonds and continue them, that link the people of Israel and the United States. That's what this visit is about -- affirming those ties that stretch back to just 11 minutes -- 11 minutes after Israel declared statehood when the United States became the first country in the world to recognize Israel. And I assure you we'll be the last country in the world ever to walk away from Israel.

Ties that have grown deeper and broader with each passing year and now encompass a 21st century partnership -- one grounded on ageless values and looking squarely at the future. We're here to stay, Mr. President -- Mr. Prime Minister. Like it or not, we're with you. There's no way out.

I want to thank you very, very much for your hospitality. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart that your security -- the security isn't going to determine the security of Jewish people around the world for the rest of the world. It's critical and we are in it with you. Thank you. [07:50:11]

LAPID: Thank you very much, Mr. President.

And before we move on to a question, there is a technical change of the stage.

BIDEN: These guys work awful hard.

LAPID: Yes. We're just standing here.

BIDEN: (Laughing).

LAPID: Thank you very much.

We will now be taking questions from the press. The first one to ask a question is Ms. Gili Cohen from Channel 11 Israeli television.


I want to ask will you set a deadline for the nuclear talks or define a certain stage when you will say there is no more opportunity to revive the nuclear deal and what will happen afterwards?

And another question, sir. Your visit tomorrow is Jerusalem and you won't be accompanied by an Israeli official. Does this represent a change in your administration's view regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and if Jerusalem is part of it?

Thank you.

BIDEN: The answer to your last question is no. With regard to your first question, we have laid out for the people -- for the leadership of Iran what we're willing to accept in order to get back into the JCPOA. We're waiting for their response. When that occur -- when that will come, I'm not certain, but we are not going to wait forever.


LAPID: No, this -- the question was for the president and --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you want to call on the next question?

BIDEN: Sure. I was given a list here. Steve Holland of Reuters.


There is some opposition back home to your meeting with Saudi leaders this week. What will you say to Saudi leaders, specifically to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, about the Khashoggi murder and other human rights practices?

And if I may, Prime Minister Lapid, how close are you to an agreement with Saudi Arabia to gain overfly rights, and should we expect that soon?

Thank you.

BIDEN: With regard to the question you asked me, my views on Khashoggi have made -- been absolutely, positively clear, and I have never been quiet about talking about human rights.

The question that I'm -- the reason I'm going to Saudi Arabia, though, is much broader. It's to promote U.S. interest -- promote U.S. interest in a way that I think we have an opportunity to reassert what I think we made a mistake of walking away from -- our influence in the Middle East.

I'm going to be meeting with nine other heads of state. It's not just -- it happens to be in Saudi Arabia. And so, there are so many issues at stake that I want to make clear that we can continue to lead in the region and not create a vacuum -- a vacuum that is filled by China and/or Russia against the interest of both Israel and the United States, and many other countries.

And so, the purpose of the visit is to -- is to coordinate with nine heads of state what are in U.S. interests and I believe in Israel's interest as well.

HOLLAND: So you don't expect to bring up Khashoggi?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's let Prime Minister --

BIDEN: I will bring up -- I always bring up human rights. I always bring up human rights. But my position on Khashoggi has been so clear. If anyone doesn't understand it in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else then they haven't been around for a while.

LAPID: About the overflights of Saudi Arabia, of course, as I was saying in my speech, we are all for promoting normalizations with every country in the region if it is possible. But since the president is going to Saudi Arabia and there will be a finalization of the issues over there, I will let the president finalize this when he's in Jeddah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Prime Minister.

BIDEN: I'm optimistic.


LAPID: And the next question will come from Ms. Tal Schneider from The Times of Israel.

TAL SCHNEIDER, DIPLOMATIC AND POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE TIMES OF ISRAEL: Hi, hello. Thank you for being in Jerusalem. It's good to see you.

Israelis have been waiting to hear developments on the visa waiver program. We know that there are hurdles to get there, but can you set a deadline after which Israel will be granted with a waiver to enter the U.S.? Will you bring this issue with the opposition leader Netanyahu when you meet him today?

And another question for our prime minister. There is a discussion about regional defense corporation that includes Israel and the Saudis, but we hear that there are technical difficulties as well as other reservations from the Saudis with respect to defense system, which means it's mostly about Israel sharing its intelligence -- its intel.

How do you see the corporation moving along with those problems?

Thank you.

BIDEN: With regard to your question to me, we are working very, very, very hard to eliminate the lack of precision and the applications, many times, for the visa program. It is my hope and expectation that in the next several months we'll have it worked out.

LAPID: And jumping on the subject, and we urge the Israeli opposition to become -- to be more responsible and help with the legislation needed to finalize this.

As for your question, it is no secret that we're doing our best with our American friends to work on the regional security architecture -- so this was no secret. The details of this apparently are so I'm not going to go into details on this. But we are working with everybody we can in order to promote regional security, especially facing Iran's regime and the terror policy they bring to the table.

BIDEN: The next person to ask us a question, I guess, is Nadia.

NADIA BILVIZUV (PH), ALOTOBEA (PH) TELEVISION: Thank you, Mr. President. Nadia Bilvizuv, Alotobea Television.

Allow me to press you a little bit on Iran if I may. You visited --

BIDEN: No, I'm not going to allow that.

LAPID: I did it today, so --


BILVIZUV: You are -- you are visiting the Middle East here in Israel and then you're going to Saudi Arabia where you're meeting with King Salman and other GCC leaders. You know in advance, before you come here, their position, their concern, their fear about Iran nuclear program and Iran's support for proxies in the region.

Tangibly, what are you offering them to assuage their fear and concern, practically? Is it anything that you are offering them to make them feel comfortable that the United States are on the same page with them?

And if I may, Mr. Prime Minister, what are the differences and the similarities between you and President Biden regarding Iran? Do you see eye to eye on all the issues? You alluded to some differences just now. And if I may, I wanted you to confirm to us today your position in

supporting the two-state solution as a caretaker prime minister and if, should you be elected, as the next prime minister of Israel.

Thank you so much.

BIDEN: With regard to Iran and convincing the Saudis and others that we mean what we say, is we mean what we say. They have an opportunity to accept this agreement that's been laid done. If they don't we've made it absolutely clear we will not -- let me say it again. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

LAPID: Well, with regards to the question about Iran, we have an open discussion about what is the best way to deal with it, but I don't think there's a light between us in terms of these are all means to an end. We cannot allow Iran to become nuclear. Israel has the right to act freely on the subject but we are, of course, discussing everything with our greatest ally, which is the United States.

About the two-state solution, I haven't changed my position. A two- state solution is a guarantee for a strong democratic state of Israel with a Jewish majority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. This concludes the signing ceremony and the press conference. Please remain seated until the leaders have left the room.

BIDEN: Thank you all so much.

LAPID: This concludes the -- sorry.

BLITZER: All right, so there we have it -- the important news conference in Jerusalem -- the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States.