Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu renewed the commitment by the U.S. and Israel to applying pressure on the Iranian regime and touted the "tremendous alliance" between the United States and Israel on Wednesday.
In a joint statement at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu called Pompeo a "stalwart defender of the truth" and deemed the U.S-Israeli relationship an "unbreakable bond based on shared values of liberty and democracy." He called President Trump's controversial decision to designate Jerusalem as Israel's capital a "historic" moment for the nation.
"No less historic was President Trump's decision to walk away from the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran," added Netanyahu. The prime minister said that pressure on Iran is working. "We need to increase it, we need to expand it...the U.S. and Israel are working in close coordination to roll back Iranian aggression in the region," he added.
Pompeo meanwhile said that the U.S. was "proud to deploy" a highly advanced missile defense system in Israel known as the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system, as tensions with Iran continue to surge.
He also said that the U.S. is monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, citing the "dark wave" rising in Europe and the U.S., all nations, "especially those in the West, must go to the barricades against bigotry." He also remarked that anti-Semitic language had been "uttered in great halls of our own Capitol," likely an indirect reference to comments about Israel by Rep. Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who faced a backlash from lawmakers of her own party that were widely denounced as.
"This should not be," Pompeo sternly noted.
Pompeo's visit to Jerusalem comes just weeks before Israel holds elections in early April. Netanyahu is running for re-election despite the fact that he's been indicted on a litany of criminal charges. Netanyahu is accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, but he could still be re-elected.
CBS News' Christinia Ruffini reports that there is currently no rule that a sitting prime minster can't keep his job while he's under indictment, but he would have to be forced to give up his role as minister in other capacities, such as leading Israel's defense. Israel's attorney general, meanwhile, has imposed a deadline of July 10 to hold a hearing to determine whether or not to indict Netanyahu.
Asked if he thought his visit would impact the election, Pompeo told reporters: "Israel is an important ally and we don't stop our meetings just because they are in an election cycle."
Netanyahu is set to visit Washington to meet with President Trump and attend the annual AIPAC summit next week. According to the White House, "The President and the Prime Minister will discuss their countries' shared interests and actions in the Middle East" during a working meeting on March 25. The President will also host the Prime Minister for dinner on March 26.