WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump said at a gathering in Las Vegas of the Republican Jewish Coalition that in the upcoming Israeli election, "It’s going to be close, (these) are two good people," apparently referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Kahol Lavan co-chairman Benny Gantz.
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Trump devoted most of his speech to his own achievements as president. At one point, however, he asked the crowd what they thought was the state of the race. The crowd yelled "Bibi", and Trump said in reply – "I think it’s going to be close. Two good people."
Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson made his first public appearance in months on Saturday at the gathering, the leading Jewish group affiliated with the Republican Party, which was held in his Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
Adelson, who has been undergoing cancer treatments since last year, had arrived to the event shortly before Trump took the podium.
A group of young left-wing activists attempted to disrupt Trump’s speech, protesting against the occupation, but were swiftly escorted outside.
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam listen to U.S. President Donald Trump address the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., April 6, 2019.KEVIN LAMARQUE/RETUERS
The crowd chanted "four more years" after detailing his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
In his speech, Trump said that "unlike other presidents, I keep my promises" and called the embassy move an example of a "historic action that had been decades in waiting."
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Referring to the Adelsons, Trump said he thinks "that is the most important thing I think that’s ever happened in their life. They love Israel."
Trump also warned that a Democratic victory in 2020 could "leave Israel out there" and accused Democrats of allowing anti-Semitism to "take root" in their party.
Trump thanked several Republican politicians, quipping, “and a special thanks to Rep. Omar of Minnesota." His remarks drew laughter and boos from the crowd.
A man wears a Trump yarmulke prior to a speech by US President Donald Trump during the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 6, 2019. AFP
The Adelsons gave President Donald Trump’s campaign $30 million in 2016. They followed that by contributing $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 midterm elections.
In November, Trump recognized Miriam Adelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor the nation reserves for a civilian. She’s a doctor and philanthropist.
A month ago, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced that Adelson — its founder, chairman and CEO — had to curtail his work schedule to receive treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The 85-year-old Adelson has not been seen in public since December and his condition has been described as dire.
From January to mid-March, his private plane was parked in Basel, Switzerland, though it’s unclear if Adelson was in that country during this time.
A month ago the Las Vegas Sands Corp. told The Associated Press that Adelson had cancer.
“Mr. Adelson is still dealing with certain side effects from medication he is taking for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” company spokesman Ron Reese said in an emailed statement. “These side effects have restricted his availability to travel or keep regular office hours.”
The effects haven’t prevented Adelson from fulfilling his duties as chairman and CEO, Reese said on February 28, adding that the company expected him to return after he completed treatment.