U.S. Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration “has put Iran on notice,” and will not tolerate Iranian efforts to “destabilize the region and jeopardize Israel’s security.”
His comments Sunday night in Washington came at the opening of the three-day annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Pence said U.S. commitment to Israel is “non-negotiable,” and that President Donald Trump is committed to finding a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
He also said the president is seriously considering moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Such a move could seriously impair peace efforts, with Palestinians viewing East Jerusalem as the capital of their state under a two-state solution.
Pence also reiterated the administration’s opposition of the deal the U.S. and five other nations struck with Iran during the administration of former President Barack Obama to curb the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.The vice president criticized what he called the “disastrous end” of economic sanctions that were put in place amid allegations Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons, which Iran has denied.
The AIPAC conference opened just days after a bipartisan coalition of U.S. senators introduced legislation calling for new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, targeting Tehran’s ballistic missile testing and its alleged support of terrorism.
In opening remarks Sunday, Israel’s U.S. Ambassador Ron Dermer voiced hope for improved bilateral ties under President Trump, saying “there was a meeting of the minds” when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Trump last month at the White House.
“This has made me even more confident that our alliance will be considerably stronger in the years ahead,” Dermer said in comments widely quoted in Israeli media.
Outside the conference venue, several hundred protesters from the anti-Israeli occupation group “IfNotNow” marched, some of them carrying placards and banners denouncing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
One banner read: “Jews Won’t be Free Until Palestinians Are.Reject AIPAC, reject Occupation.”