NEW YORK — Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind closed doors here on Sunday.
Trump's meeting at Trump Tower lasted more than an hour, Israeli officials said. Clinton and Netanyahu met for about 50 minutes at a hotel in Manhattan.
“Mr. Trump and the Prime Minister discussed the special relationship between America and Israel and the unbreakable bond between the two countries,” the Trump campaign said in a statement after the meeting.
Among the topics discussed, according to the campaign, were the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration — which Trump regularly condemns on the campaign trail — and strategic military coordination between the two countries. The two also spoke about terrorism in the Middle East, the Islamic State militant group, cybersecurity and Israel’s economy.
Similarly, a senior Clinton aide said that the two had an "in-depth" conversation.
"Secretary Clinton stressed that a strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States because we share overarching strategic interests and the common values of democracy, equality, tolerance and pluralism," the aide said. "She reaffirmed her unwavering commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship and her plan to take our partnership to the next level."
According to the Clinton campaign, the two also discussed the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama diplomatic initiative that she supports but that Netanyahu vehemently opposes. The brief summary of the meeting did not go into detail about that disagreement, which would cloud their relationship if she is elected. Netanyahu's relationship with President Obama, never warm, became extremely tense last year when the Israeli leader was seen to be meddling in U.S. politics by trying to derail the agreement.
Clinton and Netanyahu know each other well, going back to her time as first lady. She has joked that as secretary of state, she was often the administration's "designated yeller" when Washington was at odds with the hawkish longtime Israeli politician.
Clinton also discussed her commitment to working toward a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, her campaign said.
Netanyahu “thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support for Israel,” according to the prime minister’s office.
Trump “agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State,” the campaign said in a statement.
The real estate mogul has spoken in favor of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, although he has not presented a clear position on what his preferred outcome would be. Earlier this year, he said that he would be “neutral” in any negotiations between the two sides, but he has since stated that neutrality would be difficult and that such a deal would have to favor Israel’s interests.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a trusted campaign adviser, and Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States, attended the meeting.
Trump faced a sharp rebuke from the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish organization, earlier this year over his “ugly rhetoric” toward minorities. His critics have labeled him as anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, a characterization the candidate has fought to reverse in recent weeks with an outreach campaign aimed at minorities, in particular African Americans.
Trump came under fire again from Jewish leaders and donors after he refused to condemn an anti-Semitic image re-tweeted by his campaign on his official Twitter account. Kushner, who is Jewish, defended his father-in-law in an op-ed published in the New York Observer, of which he is the publisher. “My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite,” he wrote.