President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry creating greater distance between themselves and Israel in the waning days of the administration has brought President-elect Trump and pro-Israel voices closer together.

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect,” Trump declared Wednesday on his favorite platform, adding, “Stay strong Israel, January 20th [the day the new president will be sworn into office] is fast approaching!”

The Obama administration’s refusal to block a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements and Kerry’s Wednesday speech make it easy to forget that Trump’s commitment to Israel was questioned during the campaign. Some viewed him as less reliably pro-Israel than his Republican primary opponents or even Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

At issue were Trump’s repeated pledges to be a “neutral guy” in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. “I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians, that would be such a great achievement,” he told the New York Times.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both hit Trump on Israel during the GOP primary debates.

“This is another issue on which Donald agrees with Hillary Clinton and on which I disagree with them both strongly,” Cruz said. “Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton want to be ‘neutral,’ to use Donald’s word, between Israel and the Palestinians… and the notion of neutrality is based upon the Left buying into this moral relativism that is often pitched in the media.”

“I don’t know if Donald realizes this,” Rubio said. “I’m sure it’s not his intent perhaps. But the position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position. And here’s why. Because you cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith.”

“And so the next president of the United States needs to be someone like me who will stand firmly on the side of Israel,” the Florida senator later added. “I’m not — I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘Oh, I’m not on either side.’ I will be on a side.

“I think it serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy,” Trump said. “Now, I may not be successful in doing it, it’s probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. It doesn’t help if I start saying I’m very pro-Israel.”

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“He thinks the Palestinians are a real estate deal!” Rubio shot back. “The Palestinians are not a real estate deal.”

“Such a position makes Trump an outlier among Republicans,” wrote Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin. “Virtually every other GOP presidential candidate and the overwhelming majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate have affirmed their support for Israel in a way that makes clear that they believe the U.S. strongly backs Israel against the repeated Palestinian refusal to make peace.”

“If anything,” Tobin concluded, “Trump’s stance strongly resembles the policy position taken by the Obama administration over the last 7+years.”

The New Republic paired Trump with socialist Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in a piece titled, “Criticizing Israel is no longer political suicide.”

Pro-Israel conservatives especially worried that Trump’s occasional feints toward non-interventionism in foreign policy signaled indifference toward the Jewish state while alt-right supporters online evinced outright hostility.

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But Trump delivered a relatively well received speech at the AIPAC conference, one of his first formal addresses using a teleprompter. On the campaign trail, he frequently criticized the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran as dangerous to Israel and pledged to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Pro-Israel evangelicals supported him by overwhelming margins.

Since winning the election, Trump’s pick of David Friedman to be ambassador of Israel has won praise from the Jewish state’s American supporters, Israeli lawmakers and the settler community. Trump’s Tuesday announcement of Jason Greenblatt as his top international special negotiator earned similar rave reviews.

As Kerry cast doubt on Israel’s ability to remain Jewish and democratic without adopting the Obama administration’s blueprint for Middle East peace, Trump made common cause with pro-Israel Republicans.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Trump’s pro-Israel tweets with a tweet of his own: “President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel!

Even leading anti-Trump American conservatives are comparing the president-elect favorably to his predecessor on Israel.

“Trump bids fair to be an irresponsible president,” tweeted Bill Kristol. “But he’ll have to try hard to match Obama and Kerry’s assault on Israel on their way out.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, another frequent Trump critic, says that his proposal to cut United Nations funding in response to the settlements resolution would empower the incoming president.

“Trump is a good negotiator,” Graham told CNN. “Let’s see if this gives him some leverage.”

Whatever Obama and Kerry’s legacy on peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, they have clearly contributed to greater Republican unity.

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