(JNS.org) Presidential candidates Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton squared off in their first presidential debate on Monday evening.
While the debate largely focused on domestic issues, the candidates did spar over the Middle East, including the fallout over the Iran nuclear deal and how to handle the Islamic State.
"You look at the Middle East, it's a total mess,” Trump said. “Under your direction, to a large extent ... you started the Iran deal. They were choking on the sanctions. And now they're going to be probably a major power at some point pretty soon, the way they're going."
Clinton defended her record, saying the nuclear deal, which she helped to lay the groundwork for as secretary of state, has delayed Iran’s capacity to develop a nuclear weapon.
"When I became Secretary of State [in 2009], Iran was weeks away from having enough nuclear material to form a bomb," she said, explaining that she laid strong sanctions under her watch. "And my successor, John Kerry, and President [Barack] Obama got a deal that put a lid on Iran's nuclear program without firing a single shot."
Trump also said that Clinton has spent her “entire adult life” fighting the Islamic State and that she will never be able to defeat the group. However, Clinton dismissed Trump’s accusation, saying that the Republican “has no plan” to fight the terror group.
While Israel was not mentioned directly during the debate, Trump did reference Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal.
“This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history,” Trump said. “I met with Bibi Netanyahu the other day. Believe me, he is not a happy camper.”
On the eve of the presidential debate on Sunday, both candidates separately met with Netanyahu in New York City.
Following the meeting, Netanyahu said that both candidates are strong supporters of Israel and that “it doesn’t matter which one is elected.”
“They both spoke about their support for Israel and the importance of relations between our countries,” Netanyahu said. “It doesn’t matter which of them will be elected, U.S. support of Israel will remain strong, our pact will remain strong and will even get stronger in the coming years.”