President Donald Trump began a two-day visit to Israel yesterday with what amounted to a blunt assessment for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: If Israel really wants peace with its Arab neighbours, the cost will be resolving the generations-old standoff with the Palestinians.
In the end, Trump shook hands with all the ministers, as well as dozens of deputy ministers, religious leaders and the heads of the army, police and Mossad foreign intelligence service.
During his visit to Israel, President Donald Trump will stay in an "armored suite" in Jerusalem's King David Hotel that is capable of withstanding nearly any kind of attack, The Hill reported Saturday.
Back in Israel, he'll briefly tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and deliver a speech at the Israel Museum - expected to be his longest public remarks during the visit - before departing for the Vatican.
Given the competing claims, the US says the city's fate must be worked out through negotiations and, like most countries, it maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley declared the site part of Israel, while U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday dodged the question. Attacking the United States is not considered good politics in Israel, and politicians who heaped praised on Trump in the wake of his election in November may be hesitant to turn against him.
But Trump, on his second stop of a three-country tour highlighting the world's three largest monotheistic religions, is continuing to ramp up expectations, expressing optimism that a peace deal can finally be brokered to end the almost 70-year-old conflict and even suggesting a resolution may not be so hard to obtain after all.
"Intelligence cooperation is terrific", said Netanyahu, who appeared to wince in response as he ushered Trump away from reporters.More news: Turkey summons U.S. envoy over 'security lapses' in Erdogan visit
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Trump has called an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement "the ultimate deal", but has been vague about what form it should take. "But we can only get there (by) working together".
Abbas is scheduled to welcome Trump to the presidential palace in Bethlehem this morning, followed by a bilateral meeting.
"He has been clear about these issues, and will remain clear on those issues during the visit", the unnamed official said. They included the development of some West Bank industrial zones, opening the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan 24 hours a day and increasing building permits for Palestinians living in Area C of the West Bank, where Israel has full control.
Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, has not helped inspire confidence in his impartiality, having failed to disclose multiple professional ties with Israel that may compromise his position as an impartial broker.
Trump ad libbed less in his joint press conference with Netanyahu. "Trump said, 'That's an idea, ' " Bennett recalled. But he did not mention what has always been the goal of USA diplomacy in the region - a two-state solution to the conflict: Israel and a Palestinian state.
No previous USA president has come to Israel this early in his tenure.
Last night, Mr Trump defended himself against allegations that he divulged classified information in a recent meeting with Russian diplomats, saying alongside Mr Netanyahu that he never identified Israel in his Oval Office conversation.
"It is something that I think is, frankly, maybe, not as hard as people have thought over the years", Trump said last month during a meeting with Abbas.