US President Donald Trump has skipped the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, DC, amid reports of some differences between Washington and Tel Aviv on policy matters, a report says.
Trump dispatched US Vice President Mike Pence and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley to speak to the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group in his place, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The Trump administration, the newspaper reported, is pressing the regime of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a so-called peace deal with Palestinians that would halt the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, but Netanyahu is refusing to stop the settlement activity.
In addition, Netanyahu also wants to discuss with Trump ways and means of dealing with Iran, but the new US administration is still formulating its policy on the Islamic Republic, according to the report.
Netanyahu meanwhile spoke via satellite on Monday to the crowd gathered by AIPAC. He avoided any reference to the issue of illegal settlements, which Trump raised before their first meeting last month. The US president then said the rapid growth of settlements was an obstacle in reaching an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu also thanked Trump over a recent US budget request that “leaves military aid to Israel fully funded.”