Billionaire Sheldon Adelson said at a private gathering of top Republican donors on Thursday night that based on the Trump administration’s first month in the White House, he believes Donald Trump will be "the best president ever" for Israel.
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Adelson, who owns the pro-Netanyahu daily newspaper Israel Hayom, will host the annual leadership conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition this weekend, bringing together hundreds of influential supporters of Israel within the Republican Party at his Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. CNN reported that Adelson's remarks about Trump and Israel were made during a dinner event at his home, attended by many of the organization's top donors.
On Friday, the main speaker before the conference will be U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who will also hold a private meeting with Adelson before addressing the entire audience. Pence has been a staunch supporter of Israel for years, and has close ties to right-wing pro-Israeli groups, both Jewish and Christian. Pence will also be a keynote speaker this year at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C.
Adelson's meeting with Pence will mark the second time in two weeks that he speaks privately with a senior figure in the Trump White House. Two weeks ago, on the eve of Trump's first meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Adelson met the president in Washington for a joint dinner that was also attended by a small number of aides and advisers. Adelson lobbied Trump during the meeting to adopt hard-line positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, despite the president's public statements about his will to create a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
On Thursday evening, Trump discussed the Israeli-Palestinian issue in an interview with Reuters, and said: "I like the two-state solution. Ultimately, I like whatever makes both parties happy." It will be interesting to see if Pence will touch upon this issue at his speech in Las Vegas, which will take place before a crowd that mostly opposes Palestinian statehood and Israeli territorial concessions.