WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Saturday that the upcoming Israeli election is "going to be close, [these] are two good people," apparently referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Kahol Lavan co-chairman Benny Gantz.
Trump devoted most of his speech to his own achievements as president. At one point, though, he asked the GOP gathering who they thought would win in Israel's election on Tuesday. The crowd yelled "Bibi" and Trump responded, "I think it's going to be close. Two good people."
Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson made his first public appearance in months at the event by the leading Jewish group affiliated with the Republican Party. The gathering was held in his own Venetian Hotel.
Adelson, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer since last year, had arrived shortly before Trump took the podium.
A group of young left-wing activists attempted to disrupt Trump's speech, protesting against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, but were swiftly escorted outside.
The crowd chanted "Four more years" after the U.S. president detailed his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Trump said that "unlike other presidents, I keep my promises," calling the embassy move an example of a "historic action that had been decades in waiting."
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Referring to the Adelsons, Trump said he thinks "that is the most important thing I think that's ever happened in their life. They love Israel."
Trump also warned that a Democratic victory in 2020 could "leave Israel out there" and accused Democrats of allowing anti-Semitism to "take root" in their party.
Trump thanked several Republican politicians, quipping, “And a special thanks to Rep. [Ilhan] Omar of Minnesota." His remarks drew laughter and boos from the crowd.
The Adelsons gave Trump's campaign $30 million in 2016. They followed that by contributing $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections.
In November Trump recognized Dr. Miriam Adelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor the nation reserves for a civilian.
A month ago, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced that Adelson — its founder, chairman and CEO — had to curtail his work schedule to receive treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The 85-year-old Adelson had not been seen in public since December and his condition had been described as dire.
From January to mid-March, his private plane was parked in Basel, Switzerland, though it’s unclear if Adelson was in the country during that time.
A month ago the Las Vegas Sands Corp. told The Associated Press that Adelson had cancer. “Mr. Adelson is still dealing with certain side effects from medication he is taking for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” company spokesman Ron Reese said in an emailed statement. “These side effects have restricted his availability to travel or keep regular office hours.”
The effects haven’t prevented Adelson from fulfilling his duties as chairman and CEO, Reese said on February 28, adding that the company expected him to return after he completed the treatment.