center stage

Trump connects with AIPAC crowd

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Verizon Center, on Monday, March 21, 2016, in Washington.

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump sought to put to rest recent doubts about his policies as he promised to strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance with a pro-Israel foreign policy as he addressed AIPAC’s annual policy conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

“I speak to you today as a lifelong supporter and true friend of Israel. I am a newcomer to politics but not to backing the Jewish state,” Trump presented himself to the pro-Israel crowd. “I didn’t come here tonight to pander to you about Israel. That’s what politicians do: all talk, no action. I came here to speak to you about where I stand on the future of American relations with our strategic ally, our unbreakable friendship, and our cultural brother, the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel.”

“When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on Day One,” Trump said to loud applause. “We will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel.”

Trump, reading off a teleprompter for the first time in his political career, promised to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “immediately,” and “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner received thunderous applause and a standing ovation as he expressed joy over 2016 being President Barack Obama’s last year in office.

Criticizing the president for attempting to pass a UN Security Council resolution on the terms of an eventual agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Trump pledged to veto any attempt by the UN “to impose its will on the Jewish state.”

“It’s not up the United Nations to impose a solution,” he said. “The parties must negotiate a resolution themselves. The United States can be useful as a facilitator of negotiations, but no one should be telling Israel it must abide by some agreement made by others thousands of miles away that don’t even really know what’s happening.”

“We know Israel is willing to deal. Israel has been trying to sit down at the negotiating table, without preconditions, for years,” he asserted. “The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. They must come to the table willing and able to stop the terror being committed on a daily basis against Israel and they must come to the table willing to accept that Israel is a Jewish state and it will forever exist as a Jewish state.”

Trump started off his speech by criticizing the Iran nuclear deal, which he called “catastrophic for America, for Israel, and for the whole Middle East.”

“My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” he assured AIPAC. Echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said, “The biggest concern with the deal is not necessarily that Iran is going to violate it, although it already has, the bigger problem is that they can keep the terms and still get to the bomb by simply running out the clock, and, of course, they keep the billions.”

“Iran is a very big problem and will continue to be, but if I’m elected president, I know how to deal with trouble,” he said.

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