WASHINGTON – Mike Pence addressed an annual gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Friday night, recapping an active two weeks for the US vice president in the Jewish world.
On the heels of trips to Dachau, a former concentration camp run by the Nazis in Germany, and to a Jewish cemetery in Missouri that was desecrated last weekend, Pence underscored his personal commitment to the community and the Trump administration’s broader pledge to the safety and security of the Jewish diaspora.
Pence said the administration was “solemnly” sworn to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, and warned Iran that its “terrorist minions in places like Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip” would no longer enjoy what he characterized as leniency under the former Obama administration, suggesting that new nonnuclear sanctions against the Islamic Republic may be coming down the pipeline.
The White House is still “assessing” whether to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he added, after both he and the president campaigned on a promise to facilitate the relocation with haste.
Offering few details of their plans, Pence characterized US President Donald Trump as personally committed to brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Under President Trump, let me assure you, America will support the negotiation process,” Pence said. “As the president said, any agreement must be reached by both sides. And where there will undoubtedly have to be compromises know this: The Trump administration will never compromise the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel.”
Pence thanked the RJC for its courage in “endorsing” Trump’s candidacy in May, but the group’s support from that time was far less enthusiastic than a full-throated endorsement: Its leadership offered mere congratulations to Trump when he became the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee and proceeded to run exclusively negative material on his rival, Hillary Clinton, without ever actually mentioning Trump’s name or attributes.
Former vice president Dick Cheney introduced Pence at Friday’s event. Pence has addressed the group before, and has a relationship with the organization’s chief benefactor, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who he met with while in Las Vegas. Pence said they discussed the Trump administration’s plans for a Middle East peace process.
Adelson also was reticent to support Trump, and struggled over whether to fund the brash nominee until the very end of the race. One week before Election Day, the billionaire reinforced Trump’s operation with at least $25 million.