Trump Tells Netanyahu: If Elected, U.S. Would Recognize Undivided Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the 80-minute meeting at Trump Tower in New York. Netanyahu to meet Hillary Clinton later Sunday.

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu at Trump Tower, September 25, 2016.
Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu at Trump Tower, September 25, 2016. GPO

NEW YORK - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for an hour and 20 minutes on Sunday at Trump Tower in Manhattan. He will meet with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton later Sunday, at 6:30 P.M. EST (1:30 A.M Israel time).

According to a Trump campaign press release, Trump told Netanyahu that if elected, "a Trump administration would finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel."

The Trump campaign statement said during the meeting, "Trump agreed that the military assistance provided to Israel and missile defense cooperation with Israel are an excellent investment for America," amid the backdrop of speculation that Trump would support cutting U.S. military aid to Israel.

Trump told Netanyahu that if elected, "there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries." Trump added that Israel is a "vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism." The two also discussed the nuclear deal with Iran and the fight against ISIS.

The two also "discussed at length Israel's successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders." The Republican candidate declared several times throughout the campaign that he will build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border and force Mexico to pay for it.

Benjamin Netanyahu leaves Trump Tower after meeting Donald Trump in New York, September 25, 2016.
Evan Vucci, AP

The two also discussed Israel's hi-tech and biotech economy, as well as "Israel’s emergence as a world leader in cyber defense and security and its cooperation with the United States in this regard."

"Mr. Trump recognized that Israel and its citizens have suffered far too long on the front lines of Islamic terrorism," according to the statement. "He agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu that the Israeli people want a just and lasting peace with their neighbors, but that peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State."

"Mr. Trump acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel," the statement read.

The Prime Minister's Office said that Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner attended the meeting.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu presented Israel's positions on regional issues related to Israel's security and efforts to achieve peace and stability," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. "Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support of Israel."

Sources close to Netanyahu said after the meeting with Trump that the prime minister visited the candidates, rather than their coming to him, because he understood the time pressure they were under in the run-up to the debate between them on Monday.

A senior Israeli official said that the meetings between Netanyahu and the candidates materialized over 24 hours on Friday, starting with a phone call Trump's aides held with the prime minister's advisers. Once it was clear that a meeting between the two was possible, Netanyahu's office contacted Clinton's campaign and asked to hold a meeting with her too, in order to keep the balance. 

Netanyahu has made it his policy in recent months that Israel would maintain absolute balance in its contacts with the two candidates in the White House race. Netanyahu, who in 2012 acted in a way that was perceived as him interfering on behalf of nominee Mitt Romney and against the incumbent president, Barack Obama, is interested in avoiding giving even the slightest impression of interference.

"The prime minister's instruction was clear – if we meet with one side, we must also meet with the other side," the senior official said. "We are following the number of meetings to make sure that one side doesn't get more meetings than the other."