Hillary Clinton took aim at GOP presidential front-runner Donald J. Trump without even saying his name, during a Monday speech at an annual pro-Israel policy conference that brings lawmakers and politicians together.
“We need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because everything’s negotiable,” the former Secretary of State said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. “Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.”
Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to be referencing Trump’s comments at a February MSNBC town hall that he would be neutral in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which drew sharp criticism from his rivals who accused him of not strongly supporting the American-Israeli alliance.
Clinton also hit Trump by referencing violence at his rallies, his apparent hesitation to disavow an endorsement from a white supremacist, his push to deport illegal immigrants, and his call to temporarily bar all Muslims from entering the United States.
“Now, in a democracy we’re going to have differences. But what Americans are hearing on the campaign trail this year is something else entirely,” Clinton said. She later added, “America should be better than this and I believe it’s our responsibility as citizens to say so.”
“If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it,” Clinton said. “If you see a bully, stand up to him.”
Trump is set to speak at the conference Wednesday evening, along with the other Republican presidential candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Speaker Paul D. Ryan is also going to address the conference, which has brought 18,000 delegates to the nation’s capital.
Each candidate is expected to lay out their policies toward Israel.Clinton also said she would meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after taking office, and work to strengthen the two countries’ alliance. She also called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Clinton stressed her support for the Iran nuclear agreement, which AIPAC opposes , but said the U.S. must be vigilant in enforcing the agreement and use force if necessary.
Democrats and Republicans diverge on their support for the Iran deal, with Republicans arguing it is detrimental to the region’s security. The issue even brought Trump to Capitol Hill for a rally in September, which Cruz also attended, days before Congress voted on a disapproval resolution on the deal.
Despite disagreements on the nuclear agreement, two top House members from opposite parties were in agreement that Iran poses the most imminent threat to Israel’s security.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., both addressed the conference Monday morning and said the Iranian regime is the most serious threat facing the region.
Hoyer said that preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon “needs to be our number one focus.” They both called for Congress to appropriate funds to Israel to bolster its defense systems. Last year, Congress appropriated $3.1 billion in military aid for Israel, as well as an additional $40 million for tunnel detection systems, and $487 million for missile defense programs.
Hoyer and McCarthy stressed that supporting Israel is an area of bipartisanship in Congress, highlighting their bipartisan trip to the country in August, which was the first time in recent memory that Republicans and Democrats overlapped on their visits.
“The issue with Israel and America brings more [bipartisanship] inside Congress, so it’s only a helpful ability that we can work together,” McCarthy said as the two men shook hands. “We stand on this stage together, and we travel to Israel together.”
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