At annual US-Israel event, a new warmth but old differences

Israeli leaders hoping President Donald Trump would be a rubber stamp for the Jewish state are hearing plenty of reassuring rhetoric at this week’s annual gathering for the “unbreakable” alliance. Missing from the agenda: Concrete steps advancing the Israeli government’s top priorities.

The Iran nuclear deal, so despised by Israel, is solidly in place. The U.S. Embassy is no closer to moving to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government wants. As it has under past presidents, Washington is still telling Israel to slow settlement construction.

It is making for an unusual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, one relieved of the strains that marked the last years of President Barack Obama’s tenure but also filled with significant uncertainty.

Netanyahu on Monday called the U.S.-Israeli relationship “stronger than ever.”

His ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said a day earlier that for the first time in years or even decades, “there is no daylight between our two governments.”

Vice President Mike Pence said he and Trump “stand without apology for Israel and we always will.”

But it’s too early to tell whether Trump will ultimately fulfill Israel’s wishes. And there are indications he’s reconsidering several stances adopted during the campaign.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly vowed to be the president to finally relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, which Israel considers its capital. As Pence said Sunday, that unequivocal promise has morphed into Trump now “giving serious consideration to moving the American Embassy.”

Though Trump in the campaign said he’d renegotiate or dismantle the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel fiercely opposes, as president he’s continuing to implement the accord while examining whether it should stand and hitting Iran with other, non-nuclear sanctions. GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, rather than urging that the deal be terminated, told AIPAC that the U.S. must “vigorously enforce” the deal…

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