Haley to address AIPAC conference; Trump-Netanyahu to meet March 5
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Haley to address AIPAC conference; Trump-Netanyahu to meet March 5

Powerful pro-Israel lobby says envoy to UN will represent US administration at annual confab, with ‘more speaker announcements to come’

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference held at the Verizon Center in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference held at the Verizon Center in Washington, Monday, March 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON — US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will address the 2018 AIPAC Policy Conference as the Trump administration’s representative, an official with the pro-Israel lobby told The Times of Israel on Friday. The source also said that “there will be more speaker announcements to come.”

The annual conference, hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is scheduled to kick off March 4 and last until March 6.

It will mark Haley’s second time speaking before the gathering since she took up her post in New York. Last year, she thrilled the crowd of roughly 18,000 by promising a new era at the world body and declaring that the “days of Israel-bashing at the UN are over.”

“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement — it’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick ’em every single time,” the South Carolina native said, deploying a whiff of Southern swagger to thunderous applause.

Since then, she has become a favorite of the American right and its pro-Israel community. Indeed, the Trump administration has brought forth policy changes toward the US-Israel relationship that marked dramatic departures from presidents past.

US President Donald Trump delivers a statement on Jerusalem from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on December 6, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

On December 6, US President Donald Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion plans to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. The decision ignited a furious response from the Palestinians and the international community. Later that month, 128 countries voted for a General Assembly resolution condemning the US’s recognition.

Their votes came despite repeated threats from Trump and Haley, who intimated that voting against the US would result in reduced aid to those countries.

Before the vote took place, Haley said the US would be “taking names,” hinting at punitive measures.

The White House’s 2019 budget proposal, however, left foreign assistance to those nations untouched. “There’s nothing specific just tied to that because that is only one factor, Hari Sastry, director of the Office of US Foreign Assistance Resources, told reporters when asked if those threats were followed through and whether any specific assistance was reduced based on December’s UN vote.

US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 25, 2018 (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also planning to speak at this year’s AIPAC confab. The past several years he had not travelled to Washington and addressed the summit via satellite.

The White House announced this week that Trump will meet with the Israeli premier at the White House while he is in town. On Friday, officials said the meeting is set for March 5.

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