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Republicans campaign for Donald Trump in Israel Open in fullscreen

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Republicans campaign for Donald Trump in Israel

100,000 Israeli-Americans voted in the last US presidential elections [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 August, 2016

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The Republican Party on Monday launched its first ever election campaign in Israel, in an attempt to convince some 400,000 Israeli-American dual citizens to vote for Donald Trump.

The Republican Party on Monday launched its first ever election campaign in Israel, in an attempt to convince Israeli-American dual citizens to cast their votes for Donald Trump.

Republican activists campaigned in several Israeli cities with high concentrations of Americans, handing out stickers and buttons with the slogan "Trump - in Israel's interest" - in Hebrew and in English.

Marc Zell, co-chairman of Republicans Overseas Israel, said about 100,000 Israelis voted in the last presidential election, with some 85 percent supporting the Republican candidate.

He said the goal was to tap into many more of the potential 300,000-400,000 eligible US voters in Israel, particularly those who have never voted before.

"We want to convince them, through our campaign, that it is important for them to vote, that they are doing a service for Israel, kind of like doing (military) reserve duty from their own home by voting for the Republican candidate who's really got Israel's interest at heart," he said.

However some view Trump as a hard sell in Israel, especially after he once suggested that he would be more "neutral" regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that, as president, he may scale back foreign aid, of which Israel is the largest recipient.

He's also been accused of failing to disavow anti-Semitic rhetoric among his supporters and espousing an anti-immigrant stance that is grating to many Jews.

Trump has drawn criticism from some American Jews for comments last year to a gathering of Jewish donors. He was booed after refusing to endorse Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel - a key Israeli position.

Zell insists the Israeli overseas vote is far more than symbolic.

"In the year 2000, we had an election where the president of the United States was decided by 537 votes in southern Florida. In Israel we had 1,500 Republican votes for George Bush in that election from southern Florida," he said. "So the impact that we could have in a close election could be very dramatic."

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