Republican frontrunner Donald Trump addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on the second day of their annual conference in Washington D.C. At a packed Verizon Center, Trump addressed the attendees.
The Donald opened by saying that he was a lifelong supporter and friend of Israel, noting that he allowed then-Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani to fly on his airplane to Israel during his visit to show solidarity with other terror victims.
“In Spring 2004, at the height of violence in the Gaza Strip, I was the Grand Marshal of the 40th Salute to Israel Parade, the largest single gathering in support of the Jewish state,” he said.
Yet, what appeared as a typical Trump speech, which is usually dotted by insults against his primary opponents, and the press, in prolonged ramblings about various subjects, quickly turned into something slightly more presidential; this was the billionaire magnate first attempt at delivering a written speech.
He said that he didn’t come here to pander about Israel like typical politicians, who are “all talk, no action.”
He discussed the future of American relations with Israel, which would begin with the dismantling of the disastrous Iran deal.
“I've studied this issue in greater detail than almost anybody,” declared Trump. It’s a bad deal that also gives $150 billion in unfrozen assets to Iran while we get nothing in return. Trump added that the Iran deal places U.S. in a horrific national security situation, along with Israel.
Trump then discussed at length the Islamic Republic’s penchant for aiding and funding global terror. They’ve sent sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which was created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps when Israel invaded the country in 1982. The Donald added that Hezbollah threatens Israel’s northern border. Yet, they’ve also aided or bankrolled terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents, which is why a Trump administration would work to dismantle their reach in spreading global terror:
…[W]e will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network. Iran has seeded terror groups all over the world. During the last five years, Iran has perpetrated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents. They’ve got terror cells everywhere, including in the western hemisphere very close to home. Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world and we will work to dismantle that reach.
He also pledged to hold Iran accountable to the restrictions in the deal by restructuring them. For starters, he would tackle what he sees as a glaring misstep in oversight involving ballistic missile tests, which isn’t a violation of the current agreement, though it does violate various United Nations Security Council resolutions. Those missiles, if left ignored, could eventually reach the shores of the United States, which is unacceptable. They’re also meant to intimidate Europe and Israel. A Trump White House won’t tolerate this ongoing activity; he made that explicitly clear.
The Donald then attacked the utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations, where he vowed as president, that he would veto any resolutions that he felt would endanger the Jewish state. He also said that the UN isn’t a friend of freedom, democracy, the U.S., and certainly not an ally of Israel. He later added that President Obama “may be the worst thing to ever happen to Israel.” He also mentioned how the president’s push for a solution between Israel and Palestine is a horrible deal:
With President Obama in his final year, discussions have been swirling about an attempt to bring a security council resolution on the terms of an eventual agreement between Israel and Palestine. Let me be clear: An agreement imposed by the UN would be a total and complete disaster. The United States must oppose this resolution and use the power of our veto. Why? Because that's not how you make a deal.
Deals are made when parties come to the table and negotiate. Each side must give up something it values in exchange for something it requires. A deal that imposes conditions on Israel and the Palestinian Authority will do nothing to bring peace. It will only further delegitimize Israel and it would reward Palestinian terrorism, because every day they are stabbing Israelis – and even Americans.
Just last week, American Taylor Allen Force, a West Point grad who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was murdered in the street by a knife-wielding Palestinian. You don't reward that behavior, you confront it!
It's not up the United Nations to impose a solution. The parties must negotiate a resolution themselves. The United States can be useful as a facilitator of negotiations, but no one should be telling Israel it must abide by some agreement made by others thousands of miles away that don't even really know what's happening.
Trump added that there is no moral equivalency between Israel and Palestine because the former doesn’t name public squares after terrorists; they don’t pay children to stab innocent people. Palestinians must end their culture of hatred against Israelis.
Another aspect of Trump’s speech was the plug for his book, “The Art of the Deal,” which he proudly claimed is one of the all-time best selling books on the subject. Nevertheless, he also highlighted the Palestinians’ serial rejection of the peace process, and that the day he becomes president will be the day Israel stops being treated like a second-class citizen.
He added that Hillary Clinton is a total disaster, and that she and President Obama have treated Israel “very, very badly.” If elected, a Trump presidency would move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The speech was more measured, though it did contain the real estate moguls’ usual trademarks and phrases. At several points in his address, he received standing ovations. This speech was seen as a rather important address for the businessman, who would be speaking to "a sophisticated crowd on Middle East policy," some of whom have thus far been either unimpressed with his grasp of foreign policy issues, or looking for that in-depth look at policy that's so visibly lacking this cycle. Moreover, there was probably (and after this speech still) lingering skepticism about the billionaire’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since Trump has said that he would take a “neutral” position on the matter. Tonight, Trump said he's a friend of Israel, "believe me."Full remarks can be found here.