Pence, Netanyahu offer AIPAC speeches light on details, heavy on Israel support


Mike Pence is set to meet with Sheldon Adelson Friday [Gage Skidmore]
VP Mike Pence emphasized his and President Donald Trump’s support for Israel at this year’s AIPAC Conference [Gage Skidmore]

Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)’s annual policy conference event Sunday, VP Mike Pence described President Donald Trump as a “true friend of Israel and courageous defender of freedom.” The Vice President emphasized his own support of Israel, noting his history of collaboration with AIPAC and numerous trips to the Holy Land. Despite these general assurances, Pence was notably short on concrete policy details regarding the Israel-Palestinian conflict and Israeli settlement construction, reflecting the Trump’s administration’s increasingly murky stance towards those respective issues.

According to Times of Israel, Pence told the audience that there will “undoubtedly have to be compromises” vis-a-vis the issue of settlements and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. That said, he assured attendees that Trump “will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish state of Israel.”

Despite his ambiguity when it came to the issue of settlements, Pence did state that Trump is “serious” about relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a major campaign pledge.

“After decades of simply talking about it, the president of the United States is giving serious consideration to moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” the Vince President said.

Like Pence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also light on specifics, though he did extol Pence and Trump for their perceived support of the Jewish State.

“I had an exceptionally warm meeting with President Trump last month and I want to thank the president for his support for Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The Prime Minister reserved his most effusive praise for U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, whom he said represents the Trump administration “turning its words into policies.”

Since her confirmation hearing in January, Haley has established a reputation as a staunch defender of Israel at the U.N., noting during her hearing that her mission at the United Nations will not be to “abstain when the U.N. seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel.”

In a February statement, Haley lamented that the U.N. has been “unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel.”

In addition to praising Haley during his AIPAC address, Netanyahu lauded the “budgetary requests of President Trump which leave military aid to Israel untouched. We appreciate this and are deeply grateful for the support of the President and congress.”

The event also attracted Jewish pro-Palestinian protesters, who carried placards and blocked doors in protest of Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank, according to Jpost.

“How can we have a sustained Jewish community in this country and a democratic Jewish community in Israel [as long as the occupation persists]” one protester told the news outlet. “AIPAC does not represent us.”

The protesters, who were coordinated with the liberal Jewish organization If Now Now, reportedly clashed with protesters associated with the Jewish Defense League, a right-wing organization aimed at Jewish self-defense. According to Jpost, this year’s AIPAC policy conference was the largest on record, attracting over 18,000 activists.


03/27/2017 12:11 PM by Menachem Rephun

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