Friday, November 24, 2017

American Presidential candidates focus on Israeli-Palestinian conflict during AIPAC conference


By Marta Feirra - March 23, 2016
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In all the presidential candidates’ speeches made at this year’s pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC conference in Washington there was a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the race for president promised to bring the ties between the U.S. and Israel to “the next level”. She said the United States can “never be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival.”

Clinton condemned Palestinian violence and suggested the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement was “anti-Semitic”, while making almost no mention of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Republican front runner Donald Trump stepped away from earlier stances of neutrality in the conflict, saying Israel is the United State’s “most reliable ally.” He blamed the Palestinians for stalled peace talks and vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he called “the eternal capital of the Jewish people.”

The Republican candidate Ted Cruz said as a president he will “not be neutral.” He said he would veto any United Nations Security Council resolutions that recognized Palestine as a state outside the context of talks with Israel. He also criticized Trump for referring to the Palestinian Authority as “Palestine”.

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was the only candidate who decided not to appear at AIPAC’s conference. Instead, he delivered a speech on foreign policy outlining his Middle East agenda in Utah on Monday.

Sanders pledged to be friendly toward both Israelis and Palestinians if elected president, and condemned the continued building of settlements in the West Bank, as well as Palestinian attacks against civilians.

“Peace has to mean security for every Israeli,” said the democratic candidate. “But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic wellbeing for the Palestinian people. Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders and pulling back settlements in the West Bank.”

The democratic candidate expressed concern over the “recent expropriation” of lands in the West Bank, and condemned the Netanyahu government’s decision to “withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue” from Palestinians. He also criticized the Palestinian president for calling for the “abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be the ending of violence.”

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