A senior U.S. official has confirmed early Thursday that President Trump is considering a trip to Israel. The official told Haaretz the White House is "exploring the possibility of a future visit to Israel as well as other countries."
Earlier, Haaretz reported that the Prime Minister's Bureau and the White House were discussing a possible visit by Trump, a senior official in Jerusalem said.
The official said several dates toward the end of May are being examined.
A preliminary delegation from the White House, State Department and Secret Service will arrive in Israel on Thursday to discuss preparations for a possible presidential visit in May. The discussions will be held in the Foreign Ministry and President’s Residence in Jerusalem, and will deal mostly with issues of logistics and security.
Trump will make his first trip abroad as president at the end of May when he will take part in a summit of leaders of NATO nations in Brussels.
The White House is currently considering the possibility of visits to several Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, during his trip to Europe.
Negotiations around the possible visit are being held a few days before the American president meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the White House on May 3. The meeting with Abbas follows several meetings Trump has held with Netanyahu and several Arab leaders, all of which revolved around attempts to renew the stalled peace process and around reaching a deal between Israel and the Palestinians. A visit to the region by Trump is expected to include visits to Arab countries, but it is still unclear if a visit to Israel will also include a visit to the Palestinian Authority.
If Trump indeed comes to Israel towards the end of May his visit will coincide with several key anniversaries. On May 24 Israel will mark Jerusalem Day, noting 50 years to the reunification of the city in 1967. Several days later, June 1, is the expiration date of the presidential order signed by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, freezing the implementation of a law which requires the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Until then Trump will have to decide whether he will renew the order or whether he will abstain from signing it, thereby allowing its implementation. During his election campaign Trump vowed to move the embassy, but on assuming office he decided to wait, partly due to pressure by Arab states and partly due to concerns of Israel regarding an escalation of the security situation if such a move takes place.
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