Hillary Clinton takes aim at tycoon over Israel

Hillary Clinton speaks during a labour organising event at Everett Union Hall in Everett, Washington.
Hillary Clinton speaks during a labour organising event at Everett Union Hall in Everett, Washington. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have presented sharply different views on how the United States should deal with the Middle East and its relationship with Israel.

Each spoke on Monday to 18,000 people assembled by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.

Mrs Clinton promised she would stand unwaveringly with Israel while accusing Mr Trump of being an unreliable partner for one of the United States' closest allies. "We need steady hands," she said, "not a president who says he's neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday and who-knows-what on Wednesday".

Mr Trump declined to answer Mrs Clinton's criticisms, offering a standard appeal to a pro-Israel audience: "When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on Day 1."

Mrs Clinton took aim at Mr Trump for declaring recently that he would be "neutral" in negotiating a peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians. While Mr Trump was not far from traditional US policy, his blunt language rattled some in Israel.

Meanwhile, a New York Times/ CBS News poll released on Monday shows alarm among Republican primary voters about the harsh attacks of their presidential contest, viewing their party as a source of embarrassment.

Forty-six per cent said they would like to see Mr Trump as the party's nominee, while three-quarters expect him to be the nominee.

Far more Democratic primary voters see their side as unified.

But in the past month, enthusiasm for Mrs Clinton has fallen 8 percentage points to 40 per cent, while it has grown for Mr Bernie Sanders by 12 percentage points to 56 per cent. Still, more than seven in 10 Democratic voters expect Mrs Clinton to win the nomination.

NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Clinton takes aim at tycoon over Israel'. Print Edition | Subscribe