Donald Trump attempted to put to rest any doubts about his commitment to Israel during an uncharacteristically scripted and somber address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference on Monday.
Trump focused his remarks, which he delivered using a teleprompter, on the threats posed by Iran and the United Nations, while stressing the need for Israel to lead in negotiating peace talks with the Palestinians.
“We will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” Trump said. “The Palestinians must come to the table knowing that the bond between the United States and Israel is absolutely, totally unbreakable.”
The GOP front-runner has come under attack from opponents on both the right and left for how he would handle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as president. He has previously said he would be a “neutral” negotiator in efforts to reach a peace deal, a notion he attempted to dismiss Monday.
“When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one,” he said.
Hillary Clinton took a number of veiled shots at Trump when she addressed AIPAC earlier in the day, taking aim at his spotty history answering questions about how he would view Israel as president.
"We need steady hands, not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who knows what on Wednesday because everything is negotiable," Clinton said. Anyone who does not understand that, she said, has "no business being our president."
Speaking with press earlier Monday at the construction site of his forthcoming hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump indicated that Israel should repay some U.S. foreign aid but later said the U.S. should continue providing the country assistance.
Trump took only a minor shot at Clinton and ignored his remaining GOP rivals all together.
“You see, what President Obama gets wrong about deal making is that he constantly applies pressure to our friends and rewards our enemies. And you see that happening all the time,” he said. “That pattern, practiced by the President and his administration, including former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton — who is total disaster by the way — she and president Obama have treat Israel very, very badly.”
Trump delivered the address from a rarely used teleprompter and avoided many of the staples of his campaign speeches. He mentioned polling only once and ignored lambasting his political opponents and the media.
The annual conference draws a strong flood of protesters and Trump’s presence only amplified the commotion. Dozens of members of Code Pink, a social justice group focused on decreasing military conflicts stood outside the Verizon Center to oppose the event.
And though not all the protesters showed up because of Trump, some Jewish leaders were conflicted about the address from the controversial figure. Rabbi David Paskin told NBC News that he and a number of others planned to walk out when Trump begins his speech and go pray.
However, Trump received a generally warm reception from the influential group.