JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s leader on Sunday praised President Donald Trump’s Mideast policies, even as he avoided openly taking sides ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that U.S. bipartisan support has been “one of the foundations of the American-Israeli alliance.” He then went on to say “that alliance has never been stronger” and praised a slew of steps taken by Trump in favor of Israel.
He noted the tough U.S. stance toward Iran, recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, the tolerant approach toward Israeli settlements and the recent diplomatic pacts between Israel and three Arab countries.
“I can only hope that this policy that brings, that isolates Iran and brings the fruits of peace, peace grounded in reality to the people of Israel, to the Arab peoples of the region, I can only hope that this policy will continue in the coming years,” Netanyahu said.
Despite his stated commitment to bipartisan ties with the U.S., Israel’s closest and most important ally, Netanyahu has frequently been seen as siding with the Republicans. Netanyahu had a cool relationship with President Barack Obama, appeared to favor Republican challenger Mitt Romney in 2012 and then delivered a major speech to Congress in 2015 to argue against Obama’s emerging nuclear deal with Iran.
After taking office, Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, winning praise from Netanyahu.
While Trump is popular with the Israeli public, Netanyahu’s close relationship with the president appears to be deepening a divide with American Jews. Opinion polls have indicated that American Jews will vote overwhelmingly in favor of Democratic challenger Joe Biden.