WASHINGTON — Donald J. Trump, real estate tycoon and frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, offered an unusually detailed policy speech on Israel and the Middle East at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference on Monday night.
The speech was a departure from his typical speechifying: Trump used a teleprompter, from which he read crisp remarks on the complexities of the threats facing the Jewish state. He spoke extensively of Israel’s willingness to resume negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions, and its opposition to a political framework for a two-state solution imposed by the United Nations Security Council. He delineated between the nuclear deal reached with Iran last summer and preexisting international laws on its ballistic missile work, and detailed how he, as president, would address both threats.
Trump repeatedly received standing ovations, and few audience members were seen leaving the massive stadium hall despite a planned protest of the controversial candidate.
To date, Trump’s campaign has been defined by accusations of racism, xenophobia, bullying, and a stubborn refusal to delve into the weeds of policymaking. And on the issue of Israel, Trump had repeatedly stated before Monday night that he would remain “neutral” in the state’s decades-old conflict with the Palestinians, in pursuit of an historic “deal of all deals”– a two-state solution.
“I’m a newcomer to politics– but not to backing the Jewish state,” he told the crowd. While he said he did not come to pander to the group on Israel, he continued to wax poetic over the state’s moral compass, its positive role in the world as a liberal democracy and America’s clear interests in standing by its side.