First lady Melania Trump visits leading Israeli hospital

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 24, 2017

During a grand welcome ceremony, to which Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made attendance mandatory for all government ministers, Trump said he hoped to "reaffirm the unbreakable bond" between the USA and Israel.

US President Donald Trump visited Jerusalem and the Western Wall yesterday as he sought ways to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace, but also used the opportunity to again lash out at Iran. "I want you to know how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East".

"Israel shares the commitment to peace that you made yesterday", he said.

The watered-down words marked a departure from Mr Trump's more bombastic comments during Mr Netanyahu's visit to the White House in February.

"I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran which you enunciated so clearly", Mr Netanyahu, who had an acrimonious relationship with former U.S. president Barack Obama, told Mr Trump at his official residence.

"What's happened with Iran has brought numerous parts of the Middle East toward Israel", Trump said at a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.

Mr Netanyahu did not mention the word "Palestinians" in his remarks, but spoke of advancing "peace in our region" with Arab partners helping to deliver it. "The Iranian regime represents the tip of the spear of global terrorism", he said. Any leader would face an enormous challenge in seeking to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together for meaningful talks, and Trump's inexperience and domestic political struggles will only add to it.

Trump's trip from Riyadh to Tel Aviv is believed to be the first open, direct flight to Israel from Saudi Arabia, which doesn't have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

"We have to get Oren Hazan out of parliament, and the sooner the better", said Benjamin Lachkar, a member of Likud's central committee, on Facebook.

His tour comes in the shadow of difficulties at home, where he is struggling to contain a scandal after firing Mr James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director almost two weeks ago.

The White House tried to play down expectations for significant progress on the peace process during Trump's stop, casting the visit as symbolic.

In fact, there were no allegations that Trump mentioned the source of the intelligence to the Russian officials.

The disclosure raised concerns that Trump had compromised an intelligence source and media later reported the information had come from the Israelis. He didn't elaborate on the more delicate question: whether the administration would change United States policy over the status of Jerusalem.

He expressed his hope for cooperation among United States allies in the Middle East. Mr Trump, who had previously suggested that it would be easier than anticipated to solve the conflict that has vexed his predecessors for decades, said that conditions were right in both Israel and the Arab world to strike what he has called "the ultimate deal".

Trump has vowed to do whatever necessary to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, dubbing a peace accord "the ultimate deal".

On Sunday, Israel authorised some economic concessions to the Palestinians that it said would improve civilian life in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and were meant to respond to Mr Trump's request for "confidence-building steps". He has since said the move was still being looked at. He was scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas May 23 in Bethlehem, West Bank, and was expected to urge the Palestinian leader to take productive steps toward peace.

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