WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday for what will be their fifth meeting in the last year. The two leaders are expected to speak to members of the media before their meeting in the White House.
Netanyahu and Trump are expected to discuss the U.S. ultimatum to the European powers on the Iran nuclear deal. In January, Trump announced that if the United States and the European countries failed to reach agreement on amending the deal, Washington would walk away from it. Netanyahu is expected to raise the issue of Iran’s continuing entrenchment on the ground and the construction of factories for precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon. The prime minister will thank Trump for his decision to accelerate the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and invite the president to attend the opening of the new embassy.
U.S. officials are expected to bring up with Netanyahu the “peace deal” that the Trump administration still hopes to put forth. Last month Trump said in an interview with Israel Hayom editor-in-chief Boaz Bismuth that he had doubts about the willingness of Israel and the Palestinians to reach a peace agreement. When asked what Israel would have to give, in the context of an agreement with the Palestinians, in return for U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as its capital, Trump said “both sides will have to make hard compromises.” The president said Israel’s settlements “are something that very much complicates and always have complicated making peace, so I think Israel has to be very careful with the settlements.”
Before boarding the plane Saturday night for his flight to the United States, Netanyahu said: “First of all, I will thank [President Trump] for the historic decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem on [Israeli] Independence Day. This is a very big present for our country.” He went on to add that Iran would be the focus of their meeting: “its aggression, its nuclear aspirations, and its aggressive actions in the Middle East in general and on our borders, all of [Israel’s borders], in particular.”
The meeting, however, will be held in the shadow of the White House announcement last month criticizing Netanyahu after the prime minister told Likud lawmakers he was in discussions with the administration over the annexation of West Bank settlements to Israel. In response, a White House spokesman said no such discussions were ever held and that the reports were “false.” Something else that could have a dimming effect on the meeting is the reports in The Washington Post that officials in Israel and three other countries discussed ways to manipulate Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, “due to the family company’s financial needs and his lack of experience.” Kushner’s security clearance was recently lowered as a result of the affair.
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Regarding the police investigations of Netanyahu, a senior White House official told Haaretz a few weeks ago that they were an “internal Israeli matter.”
On Tuesday, Netanyahu will address the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference in the U.S. capital.