Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday lauded the Trump administration for its staunch support of Israel in the United Nations and continued military aid, saying that militant Islam is a common enemy of both nations.
In a video feed from Jerusalem to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Netanyahu said the Trump administration is backing the Jewish state in word and policy.
“You see that expressed in seeing Ambassador [Nikki] Haley standing up for what’s right and the truth at the United Nations,” he said of the U.S. envoy who frequently accuses the United Nations of institutional bias against Israel.
“You see it in the budget request submitted by President Trump,” he added, referring to the proposed slashing of most foreign aid except for that provided to Israel. “It leaves military aid to Israel fully funded even as the fiscal belt is pulled tighter.”
Netanyahu made no reference to settlements in the West Bank, which the United States wants Israel to limit. But he congratulated the newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a friend of his who is a longtime supporter of settlements.
“David, I look forward to welcoming you warmly to Israel, and especially to Jerusalem,” he said, in an oblique reference to the administration’s stated aim to relocating the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Moving the mission would place the United States in a singular position and anger Palestinians who want part of the city as the capital of an independent state.
As the pro-Israel lobby’s conference got underway in Washington, a crowd of hundreds, many of them young Jewish American activists, protested in opposition to AIPAC’s support of the Israeli government’s stance on settlements.
In his remarks, Netanyahu said, “Israel is committed to working with President Trump to achieve peace with the Palestinians and all our Arab neighbors.”
But he urged the Palestinian Authority to stop teaching children to hate Israel, to stop paying the families of terrorists and to recognize the Jewish state.
“My hand is extended to all our neighbors in peace,” he added.
Netanyahu did not mention the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration and five other world powers over his government’s fierce opposition. But he briefly reiterated that the Israeli policy is to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and to counter its aggression in the region.
He lingered on what he called the mutual goal of the United States and Israel to defeat militant Islam, which he called a battle between modernity and medievalism.
“We won’t let them drag humanity away from the promise of a bright future, to the misery of a dark past,” he said.
Vice President Pence and Haley were the highest-ranking Trump administration officials to speak at the conference. Sitting presidents have often but not always addressed the gathering.
Haley drew several rounds of sustained applause and a standing ovation for brief remarks Monday in which she said she will not tolerate the rote criticism of Israel that she said has become commonplace at the United Nations.
“The days of Israel-bashing are over,” Haley said. “We have a lot of things to talk about,” in the Middle East and elsewhere, she added. “There are a lot of threats to peace and security. But you’re not going to take our No. 1 democratic friend in the Middle East and beat up on them.”
Haley claimed some early successes. She noted that U.S. objections sank the appointment of a senior Palestinian statesman, Salaam Fayyad, to a U.N. post, and that she had successfully lobbied for the retraction of a U.N. report likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid.
“So anyone who says you can’t get anything done at the U.N.,” she said, “they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.”