WASHINGTON - Israel's ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, said on Sunday that "for the first time in many years, perhaps in decades, there is no daylight" between the governments of the U.S. and Israel.
Dermer made the remark as part of his speech before the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington. The quote suggests that in Dermer's view, Israel's relationship with Trump is better than with any previous U.S. administration.
Dermer also praised the new U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and said that she was "finally bringing clarity" to the UN with regard to Israel. Dermer mentioned a number of senior American politicians who are scheduled to speak before the conference, including Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He did not mention the two most senior Democrats who are also expected to the speak – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
Dermer did name Senator Bob Menendez, one of the only two Democrats in the Senate who voted to approve David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. Dermer said that Menendez has proven himself to be a friend of Israel by taking pro-Israeli positions time and again, even when it wasn't easy. Menendez also voted against the nuclear deal with Iran in 2015, becoming one of only four Democratic Senators (including Schumer) who took such a stance.
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Speaking ahead of Dermer, AIPAC's president, Lilian Pinkus, tried to highlight the importance of bipartisan support for Israel, and warned that the pro-Israeli community should not let Israel "fall victim" to the divisive nature of U.S. politics in the current era. She repeated a number of times that it was important to preserve support for Israel among both Democrats and Republicans.
Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who has spent the last decade trying to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians, spoke about the importance of advancing Israel's partnerships with the Arab world. However, he said that in order to achieve that, Israel would have to make progress toward peace with the Palestinians.
"We do need to see how we encourage a new generation of leaders," Blair said. "The Palestinians I worked with have a genuine desire for peace. We need to create a new set of circumstances to promote peace, find a common way forward. There is a changing mood, when you look around the region today. In the end, the key is to be able to get an open relationship between Israel and the Arab world, and for that, as the Israeli government understands, you need to be engaging on the Palestinian issue also."
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