U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference that stories about Iran nuclear negotiations and rifts between Washington and Jerusalem don’t stress enough how committed President Obama is to Israel.
The reaction to Power was lukewarm, with some remaining seated and not applauding in the huge convention center hall as she took the stage.
Power touted how the U.S. has blocked “bitterly unjust,” “biased” and “ugly” actions by member states at the UN “to treat Israel unequally.”
“The United States of America will not rest until they stop,” she said.
Then Power, speaking before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quipped, “As a few of you may have heard, the Prime Minister of Israel is in town. Rumor has it that he may be giving a couple of speeches.”
“You may also have heard lately of tension” between the White House and the prime minister’s office, she added.
Power said “politics and policy” need to be viewed distinctly and remember “what the United States does each and every day to combat anti-Semitism in the world,” she said.
The U.S.-Israel relationship “firmly transcends politics and it always will.” Members of the AIPAC board stood and applauded this line, and slowly some other members of the 16,000-strong crowd followed.
The relationship “should never be politicized and it cannot or will not be tarnished or broken” as “the stakes are too high for that,” she added.
Power acknowledged Iran negotiations “have generated reasonable debate,” and punted the ball to National Security Advisor Susan Rice to discuss those in greater detail at tonight’s AIPAC session.
Stories about the negotiations, she lamented, rarely mention “the strategic foundational agreement between U.S. and Israel.”
“The United States will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapons, period,” she declared, drawing a standing ovation from less than half of the room.
Obama, she stressed, “will keep his commitment” to Israel’s security “whether negotiations collapse.”
Maybe, she added, Obama has made this point in the same way so often “that it isn’t heard anymore, but we have to keep repeating it.”
“We believe diplomacy is the preferred route,” Power said. “There will never be a sunset on America’s commitment to Israel’s security.”