Key members of the Trump administration are joining U.S. Congressional leaders for the opening of Washington’s three-day annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), as pro-Israel lobbyists and supporters voice hope for bipartisan U.S. support for an array of Israeli objectives.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to address the AIPAC conference Sunday in a speech expected to center on warming ties with the Jewish state and support for new U.S. sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missile program and its widely alleged push to develop nuclear weaponry.
The 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 Donald 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.”