WATCH as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the annual AIPAC convention via satellite, saying, “I’m confident our alliance with the U.S. will grow even stronger in the years ahead,” and that he was committed to working with U.S. President Trump to advance peace with the Palestinian.
By Yoni Hersch, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that “Israel has no greater friend than America” and that he was committed to working with U.S. President Donald Trump to advance peace efforts with the Palestinians and with the broader Arab world.
Netanyahu made the pledge in a speech via satellite link from Jerusalem to the largest U.S. pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“I am confident our alliance [with the U.S.] will grow even stronger in the years ahead,” Netanyahu told AIPAC’s annual convention. “I want to thank the president for his strong support for Israel. I want to thank Vice President [Mike] Pence for his warm words for Israel last night. The administration is showing its commitment to Israel by turning those words into policies.”
“Israel’s hand and my hand is extended to all of our neighbors in peace,” Netanyahu said. “Israel is committed to working with President Trump to advance peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors.”
But he repeated his demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, something they have consistently refused to do.
Netanyahu heaped praise on Trump, who has set a more positive tone with Israel than his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, who often clashed with the Israeli leader.
He thanked the new Republican president for a recent U.S. budget request that “leaves military aid to Israel fully funded.”
“For the security of both Israel and the United States, we must ensure that the forces of militant Islam are defeated,” Netanyahu said. “I am confident that the United States and Israel will stand together, shoulder to shoulder, to ensure that light triumphs over darkness and hope triumphs over despair.”
He also expressed confidence that the U.S.-Israeli partnership would work to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon, following its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and to “confront Iran’s aggression in the region.”
A round of U.S.-Israeli talks surrounding the stalled peace process ended last Thursday without agreement. Gaps remain over how far the restrictions on Israeli settlement building could go, according to officials close to the talks.
Many Israelis had expected Trump, because of his pro-Israel campaign rhetoric, to give a green light for settlement expansion, but Trump unexpectedly urged Netanyahu last month to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been frozen since 2014.
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