2016 Presidential Hopefuls - Trump Included- Focus on the Palestinians at AIPAC

The controversial Republican frontrunner grabbed center stage for highly anticipated remarks that break with his previous mantel of neutrality toward Israel.

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, March 21, 2016.
U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) 2016 Policy Conference at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC, March 21, 2016. AFP

The Palestinian issue was front and center in all six key political speeches made at this year's AIPAC conference in Washington.

Republican front runner Donald Trump stepped away from an earlier stance of neutrality in the Middle East. In his remarks on Monday Trump won rounds of applause for blaming the Palestinians for stalled peace talks, and he also vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem:

He also took a swing at President Barack Obama, calling him "the worst thing to happen to Israel," for which he won a sharp rebuke on Tuesday from AIPAC's new president Lillian Pinkus

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner in the race for president, promised to take U.S.-Israeli ties "to the next level," and attacked Trump for having pledged earlier not to take a stand on the Israeli Arab conflict. 

“America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival. We can’t be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. Some things aren’t negotiable,” Clinton said.

Republican candidate Ted Cruz, adding his own twist to the same refrain said in his speech: "Let me be very clear, as president I will not be neutral,." Cruz also pledged to "rip to shreds" the Iran agreement if he were elected president.

Cruz said he would also go to New York to veto himself any United Nations Security Council resolution that recognized Palestine as a state outside the context of talks with Israel.

The Republican candidate in a more distant third place, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, won applause for denouncing Palestinian attacks on Israel and calling the violence “a culture of hate that Palestinian Authority has promoted for 50 years.”

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden bid farewell to AIPAC on Sunday, and at the same time scolded Israel for settlement expansion which he said is "eroding the prospect of a two-state solution."

Biden said he found on a visit this month to Israel and the West Bank that both Israelis and Palestinians lack “the political will” to move forward in the peace process"

Netanyahu, the last of the speakers who made his remarks by video link up on Tuesday, told AIPAC he expects Obama to veto any United Nations Security Council resolution that would aim to impose a unilateral peace deal with Palestinians outside negotiations.

"A security council resolution will only convince the Palestinians they can stab their way to a state," Netanyahu said.