JERUSALEM — Vice President Mike Pence was caught on a hot mic Thursday telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “We are contending. He’s unstoppable, like someone else I know.”
It is unclear what Pence and Netanyahu were discussing or the context of the remarks captured on the microphone. The comments come as President Donald Trump's impeachment trial takes place in the U.S. Senate and Netanyahu faces three indictments as he prepares for his third national election in a year.
Pence also met with Netanyahu’s opponent, Benny Gantz, while here for the fifth World Holocaust Forum.
The vice president traveled to Israel to participate in the forum, which marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Pence used the visit as an opportunity to accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism and promoting anti-Semitism.
“We must stand strong against the leading state purveyor of anti-Semitism,” Pence said. “The world must stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“Here we gather in Jerusalem from over 50 nations with one voice to say with one voice: Never again,” he said.
Foreign leaders and dignitaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Britain’s Prince Charles, journeyed to Israel to take part in the conference, which is dedicated to the six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, who died in the Holocaust during World War II. The gathering, at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, focused on the unity among World War II allies as they battled Germany, with speeches by Putin, Prince Charles, and French President Emmanuel Macron.
“It’s not a problem of the Jews,” Macron said in French. “It’s a problem with us.”
Auschwitz, which was located in German-occupied Poland, was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on Jan. 27, 1945, as it marched toward Berlin.
“The magnitude of the genocide that was visited on the Jewish population defies comprehension,” Prince Charles said. “We must therefore commit ourselves to ensuring that their stories live on.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also attending the conference, along with member of Congress, including Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Germany also participated in the event.
"The industrial mass murder of 6 million Jews ... was committed by my countrymen" German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. "I stand here laden with the heavy historical burden of guilt."
Steinmeier also had a warning for the the present: "The spirits of evil are emerging in a new guise," he said.
When Prince Charles entered the hall, he did not shake hands with Pence despite doing so with dignitaries to the sides of him, fueling speculation on social media that the Prince of Wales had snubbed the vice president. But Pence's press secretary, Katie Waldman, pointed out that the leaders chatted before they entered the hall and tweeted out a video of the two talking.
The White House also released a photo of the two of them.
Pence plans to travel to Italy on Friday for an audience with the Pope Francis before returning to Washington on Saturday.
“Today, we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve,” Pence said Thursday. “We must be prepared to confront the vile tide of anti-Semitism that is fueling hate all across the world. And we must stand together.”