Published: Sun, April 02, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

AIPAC opens conference with appeal to bipartisanship amid polarization


The Donald Trump administration will not allow Palestinian officials to take on top positions in the United Nations until the Palestinian Authority cooperates in peace talks with Israel, Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the U.N., said Monday at the annual Policy Conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

He said, "If the world knows nothing else, the world will know this, America stands with Israel!"

In addition to strongly hinting that the pro-Israel camp's goal of having America's embassy in Jerusalem may be within reach, Pence also touched on the subject of America's policies toward Iran.

"We said, 'The days of Israel-bashing are over, '" Haley told AIPAC on Monday.

However, he said, Trump will "never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel". He then congratulated the new Israeli ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, whose appointment had been approved by the Senate following a narrow vote last Thursday. However, Pence reassured attendees that the administration is invested in finding an "equitable and just solution" to the conflict.

"Almost 70 years ago, President Truman made history by being the first president to recognize the State of Israel", Bennett told his 3,000-strong AIPAC audience, adding, "Now, President Trump can go down in history as the first president to recognize Jerusalem as its capital". At the time, Haley accused the United Nations for being "unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel".

Speaking via video link to the 18,000 people gathered for the conference in Washington D.C., Netanyahu said that "Israel's hand is extended to all our neighbors in peace".

"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 US envoy who frequently accuses the United Nations of institutional bias against Israel.

"The main focus of this year's lobbying efforts is to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to strengthen sanctions on Iran's non-nuclear activities", CBN News reported. But since taking office, the contentious issue appears to have moved to the backburner.

Netanyahu meanwhile spoke via satellite on Monday to the crowd gathered by AIPAC.

Mr Trump's inflammatory promise - made on the campaign trail - was condemned by the global community, which anxious that such a symbolic move could spark renewed violence in Israel and the Muslim world.

Trump has expressed ambivalence about a two-state solution, the mainstay of US policy for the past two decades, but he recently invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit.

There is scepticism in the United States and Middle East over the chances for restarting Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

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