Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu met with both presidential candidates on Sunday in New York, sitting down with Republican candidate Donald Trump at the real estate mogul’s residence in the morning and meeting with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton at her hotel in the evening.
Netanyahu and Trump’s meeting at Trump Tower lasted 90 minutes, during which Trump “acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3,000 years” and told the Israeli leader that if he were elected to office, his administration “would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel,” a campaign press release said.
Trump praised the $38 million military aid deal recently signed between the US and Israel, saying that the defense partnership was “an excellent investment for America”. He also assured Netanyahu that under him, strategic, technological, military and intelligence ties between the two countries would grow stronger.
The threat of terrorism was also discussed, with Trump recognizing that Israel has “suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism,” said the campaign. The candidate also asserted that peace would only come “when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”
A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the pair had discussed “issues relating to Israel’s security and its efforts to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East”, and that the Israeli leader thanked Trump for his support of Israel during the meeting.
Trump’s Jewish son-in-law and campaign advisor Jared Kushner also attended the meeting, as did Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US.
Later in the day, Netanyahu met with Hillary Clinton. The two have a long-standing relationship, as they worked closely together during Clinton’s time as secretary of state under President Barack Obama.
During their meeting, they also discussed the military aid deal, which Clinton praised as a strengthening of the defense and intelligence relationship between the two countries. According to Clinton, the Memorandum of Understanding would enable the US to “work closely with Israel to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge,” said a senior campaign aide.
Clinton emphasized her commitment to fighting the growing attempts to delegitimize Israel, specifically from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The two also touched on the two-state solution, with Clinton reaffirming support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. She disavowed outside attempts to impose a resolution, including by the UN Security Council.
The meeting was also attended by Ron Dermer and by Clinton aide Jake Sullivan. Netanyahu thanked Clinton for her friendship and support as well, said a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Netanyahu has made clear that he is maintaining a neutral stance towards this year’s contentious presidential election. Wary of appearing to favor one candidate over the other, he insisted on meeting with both, said a senior official.