Trump, meeting Netanyahu, for the first time endorses defense assistance to Israel

(JTA)– Donald Trump for the first time described U.S. defense assistance to Israel as an “investment” and said he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu and Trump discussed “many topics important to both countries” during an hour plus meeting at Trump Tower in New York, the Trump campaign said in a statement following the meeting.

“Mr. Trump agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America,” the statement said.

It was the first time the nominee embraced the notion of U.S. defense assistance. In his speech in March to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he did not mention it, although it is the lobby’s foremost consideration, and just prior to his AIPAC speech, he said he would consider making Israel pay for the assistance.

Trump in his meeting with Netanyahu also said that if he is elected president the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of the state of Israel,” according to the Trump campaign statement. The statement said that the two men have “known each other for many years.”

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Netanyahu thanked Trump “for his friendship and support for Israel.”  Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the meeting according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Trump and Netanyahu  also discussed “at length” the Iran nuclear deal, the fight against the Islamic State and other regional security concerns, according to the Trump statement.

“Mr. Trump said that under a Trump administration, there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries. Mr. Trump recognized Israel as a vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism,” the statement said.

The men also discussed Israel’s experiences with the security fence between Israel and the West Bank. Trump has said he will erect a fence between the United States and Mexico to keep out infiltrators.

According to the Trump campaign, “Mr. Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism. He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in New York at 6:30 p.m Eastern Time.