>> This is our minute-by-minute live updates story for day one of Trump's Israel visit. For live updates from day two, click here >>
- Trump's Love for Israel Might Be a Honey Trap for Netanyahu
- As Trump Leaves Saudis for Israel, Kushner Moves Center Stage
- Who's Behind the pro-Trump Billboards Around Jerusalem?
U.S. President Donald Trump landed in Israel on Monday. Ahead of a talk with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said he did not mention the word "Israel" in his meeting with Russian officials at the White House. Earlier, Trump said there's a "rare opportunity" to bring security to the region, defeat terror and create harmony and peace. Follow our live updates of the president's visit as it develops.
2:33 A.M.: Trump to open Tuesday in 'Palestine,' White House says
An official schedule of U.S. President Donald Trump's plans for Tuesday that was distributed by the White House referred to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Trump will meet first thing Tuesday morning, as the leader of "Palestine."
The United States doesn't officially recognize a Palestinian state, and usually refers in official documents only to the "Palestinian Authority." (Amir Tibon) Read the full story
12:05 A.M.: Trump: Arab leaders willing to take steps toward Israel if progress made with Palestinians
The Arab leaders U.S. President Donald Trump met with Sunday are willing to take steps toward Israel if the Israeli-Palestinian peace process makes progress, Trump told Israeli leaders Monday, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz.
Trump stressed that all the Arab leaders who were at the Riyadh summit, and especially Saudi King Salman, raised the Palestinian issue with him, the official said. They also told him they wanted to see progress on the peace process and expressed a willingness to help. (Barak Ravid) Read the full story
11 P.M.: In Israel, Trump fits right in - if only he would stop talking about peace
Trump, in some not necessarily complimentary ways, is more “Israeli” than any of his predecessors. He’s brash and abrasive and arrogant. He often talks before thinking; is insensitive to others; doesn’t care for political correctness or for the sensitivities of minorities; believes that might makes right; detests international organizations and multilateralism, and doesn’t think much of Europe either.
The only trait Trump is showing that might jar with Israelis is his repeated insistence, amplified in Jerusalem, that peace is attainable and that he is the agent of its achievement. It is a declaration that was seen as naive and messianic and vaguely anti-Israeli when Obama dared make it, so it perplexes Israelis to hear Trump promote peace as a realistic option. (Chemi Shalev) Read the full story
10:40 P.M.: Give Ivanka Trump a break, she didn’t get the Western Wall wrong
When Ivanka Trump, a daughter and adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Monday, she left a note between its stones, as is traditional, and then tweeted out a photograph of herself, writing: “It was deeply meaningful to visit the holiest site of my faith and to leave a note of prayer.”
A few snarky readers of the first daughter’s Twitter feed corrected her, arguing that the holiest site is the Temple Mount, not the Kotel below it. But Trump deserves to win this round. (David B. Green) Read the full story
9:20 P.M.: Parochial Israeli reception makes even vulgar President Trump look statesmanlike
Israel welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday with a provincially embarrassing display of provinciality. By the end of the reception at Ben-Gurion International Airport, even the U.S. president – a coarse, vulgar man with no sense of ceremony – looked statesmanlike, if not downright regal. He was surely in mild shock at what he had been through. (Yossi Verter) Read the full story
8:25 P.M.: Trump: Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is "one of the toughest deals of all"
Following his closed-doors meeting with Netanyahu, Trump says he is willing to cooperate on working toward renewing efforts on reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Speaking alongside Netanyahu in a joint press conference, Trump adds in a reference to the peace agreement: "I've heard it's one of the toughest deals of all." He added, however, that he has "a feeling that we're going to get there eventually."
8:09 P.M.: The Netanyahus introduce their son Yair to the Trumps in front of the cameras ahead of delivering joint statements to the press
Moments earlier, Sara Netanyahu complains to Trump: "If we could only paint the walls" of their residence.
7:36 P.M.: Trump’s glaring omission of Russia - the bear in the Mideast room
The focus of much of Donald Trump’s swing though Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories has been on heroes and villains. But in the U.S. president's taxonomy of good and evil, there is one particularly glaring omission. (Bradley Burston) Read the full story
7:29 P.M.: Why Trump's Western Wall visit is actually bad news for the Israeli right
In an attempt to apply symbolism to every step that Donald Trump takes on his short visit to Israel and the territories, Israeli politicians and the local media have made a major fuss of the fact that Trump is the first U.S. president to visit the Western Wall while in office. They even tried to make it out as some wonderful gesture to Israel and the Jewish people.
But it was nothing of the sort. (Anshel Pfeffer) Read the full story
7:16 P.M. Melania's slap down and 6 other awkward moments of Trump visit in Israel
From visible tension between Trump and the first lady to a shameless Israeli lawmaker’s selfie with the leader of the Free World, here are 7 moments that will make you cringe. (Judy Maltz) Read the full story
6:07 P.M. During remarks ahead of the meeting with Netanyahu, Trump said he did not mention the word "Israel" in his meeting with Russian officials at the White House.
"Just so that you know - I never mentioned the word Israel," Trump said. Netanyahu told the press that intelligence cooperation between the two countries was "excellent."
Trump also touched upon Iran, saying, “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, that I can tell you.” He added that Iran should be thanking America for getting a “great deal.” (Barak Ravid) Read the full story
4:24 P.M. Donald and Melania Trump arrive with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.
Trump arrives at the Western Wall with his wife Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. In deference to Jewish religious custom, Trump and Kushner (Ivanka Trump's husband) part ways with them. Trump and Kushner visit the men’s prayer plaza, while the first lady and daughter visit the women’s section.
Wearing a skullcap, Trump slips a note with a prayer deep into the Western Wall. Accompanied by Kushner, Trump receives an explanation about the holy site from Mordechai Eliav, the director-general of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
Ivanka Trump appears moved during the visit, as she wipes a tear from her cheek after touching the Western Wall. She seems to be deep in thought and prayer. Ivanka and First Lady Melania Trump receive an explanation from several Orthodox women. (Judy Maltz) Read the full story
4:04 P.M. The Foreign Ministry responds to the Hazan-Trump selfie scandal
The Foreign Ministry says Knesset Member Oren Hazan, who took an unauthorized selfie with Trump upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, wasn't among the A-list politician invited to shake the U.S. president's hand at the reception. "The Foreign Ministry only invited A-list staff, meaning the State of Israel's most senior figures," Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. "Unfortunately a few people who weren't on the list of senior staff snuck into the line of hand-shakers and refused to leave despite being asked to do so by the Foreign Ministry." (Barak Ravid)
3:29 P.M. Trump visits the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He is the first sitting president to visit Jerusalem’s Old City (Judy Maltz)
3:05 P.M. In his remarks following his meeting with Rivlin, Trump lauded Israel as an "amazing country what you've done perhaps virtually has never been done before"
"Shalom," he said. "I am awed by the beauty and majesty of this sacred land."
Trump accused Iran of fomenting "terrible violence" and said that Israel and the U.S. agree that Iran must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and should be forced to cease funding terrorism. He further said that there's a growing realization among Israel's Arab neighbors regarding the threat posed by Iran.
He thanked Rivlin and Netanyahu for their commitment to peace with the Palestinians, and said he wants to build stronger trade ties with Israel.
3:00 P.M. Following Trump and Rivlin's meetings, the two delivered remarks
Rivlin said that "we're happy to see America is back in the region. America is back." He said Israel will do everything in its power to assist the U.S. in its commitment to fight ISIS, and expressed appreciation for the U.S. strike on an Syrian airbase in April.
The Jewish people returned to the historic homeland after 2000 years of exile. We created a miracle In our most difficult times, we never gave up on our dream of living here in peace with our neighbors."
Rivlin stressed the importance of distancing Iran from Israel's borders. "We want to move forward," he said. "We must do it together with America."
2:37 P.M. Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refuses to say Western Wall is in Israel (Amir Tibon)
2:33 P.M. Israeli media welcomes Trump with English headlines and editorials (Judy Maltz)
2:30 P.M. Trump the Impossible. Trump the Asteroid
There's a theory that it would take an event as impossibly unlikely, as humanly uncontrollable, as potentially cataclysmic as an asteroid striking the earth, for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to make peace, writes Bradley Burston.
2:15 P.M. Trump meets with Rivlin
Trump tells Rivlin that "what happened in Iran has turned other parts of the Middle East toward Israel," noting that these countries "were not feeling so well about Israel not so long ago."
He said there's a "great feeling" for peace in the Middle East, and that people "have had enough of the bloodshed and the killing." He said that he expects to have "interesting talks" while in Israel.
Rivlin told Trump that "we've been waiting and praying for peace and hope someone will bring it."
2:07 Trump arrives at the President's Residence in Jerusalem
2:00 P.M. Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu's private exchange
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister, probably had not intended her words for mass consumption. But an informal exchange between the American and Israeli leaders and their spouses, caught on camera after the welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport, said a lot about how she and her husband view the media – and themselves.
“Also us, the press hates and the public loves,” she confided in Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States. This was preceded by the Trump and Netanyahu sharing how much their wives liked one another. (Judy Maltz)
1:30 P.M. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tells Trump that there may have been a terror attack in Tel Aviv earlier on Monday - an hour and a half after police declared the incident was a car accident.
1:20 P.M. During the reception for Trump, Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the president that in honor of Jerusalem's 50th anniversary of unification, "we expect you to be the first president who recognizes united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty." Trump looked at Netanyahu and remarked, "That's an idea"
1:15 P.M. Knesset Member Oren Hazan repeatedly tries to take a selfie with Trump. Netanyahu tries to push Hazan's hand away.
1:05 P.M. Trump makes remarks on the tarmac: "On my first trip overseas as president, I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm unbreakable bond between us and Israel."
"In this land so rich in history, Israel has built one of the world's greatest civilizations, a strong resilient determined prosperous nation, forged in the commitment that will never allow horrors of last century to be repeated," he said.
Trump said he met with leaders from across the Arab world and reached "historic agreements" in fights against terror. He said there's a "rare opportunity" to bring security to the region, defeat terror and create harmony and peace, but said "We can only get there working together, there is no other way."
He concluded by saying "We love Israel, we respect Israel" and conveying warm greetings from the American people. Read the full text
1:00 P.M. Netanyahu to President Trump: Israel shares your commitment to peace and reaches out its hand to the Palestinians
Netanyahu said Trump's visit "is truly historic": "Never before has the first foreign trip of the president of the United States included a visit to Israel." He thanked Trump for his "powerful expression of your friendship to Israel."
He said Israel has been fighting terrorism and protecting members of all faiths, "Christians, Muslims, everyone," while Christians are being prosecuted elsewhere in the Middle East.
"Israel shares you commitment to peace, we've already made peace with Egypt Jordan," he said. "Israel's hand is extended in peace to all our neighbors, including the Palestinians. We seek genuine, durable peace in which Jewish state is recognized, security remains in Israel's hands, conflict ends once and for all."
He expressed hope one day an "Israeli prime minister will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh." Read the full text
12:50 P.M. President Rivlin welcomes Trump in a speech on the Tarmac
"Your visit is a symbol of the unbreakable bond between Israel and America," Rivlin said. "You are the President of Israel’s greatest, most important ally. You are a true friend of Israel, and of the Jewish people."
"Mr. President, the world needs a strong United States. The Middle East needs a strong United States. Israel needs a strong United States. And – may I say – the United States also needs a strong Israel... "
"Mr. President, today I will have the honor to host you in Jerusalem. We are honored to have you here with us, as we mark fifty years of ‘Jerusalem Day’, Yom Yerushalayim. It makes us very happy to know that Israel’s most important ally recognizes the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish People. Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish People: as it has been for 3000 years."
"Mr. President. You came here to Israel from Saudi Arabia. In Jerusalem, you will be at the Western Wall, and visit the holy Church, and then you are going to the Vatican. In just one journey you will visit the three holiest places for Islam, Judaism and Christianity. We each have different beliefs – but we all worship the same God. We can work together towards a better future. We shall continue to do so, together. Welcome to Israel. God bless you. God bless America. God bless Israel." (Barak Ravid)
12:44 The American and Israeli national anthems play on the tarmac
12:41 Trump is greeted by Israeli leaders upon descending from Air Force One
As he landed, Trump shook hands with Israeli President Rivlin and his wife Nechama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara, Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, and then reached the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who worked for Trump as a lawyer for many years. "Who is this guy? You work out here now?" Trump asked with a smile, and then told Friedman that he "got what he wanted."
Trump then asked Friedman's wife, Kim, "are you proud of your man?" (Amir Tibon)
12:40 P.M. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner descend from Air Force One
12:22 P.M. Trump touches down in Israel
12:20 P.M. Fake Trump interviewed by Israel's Army Radio
A radio prankster pretending to be U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded on Monday to secure an interview for himself on a prime-time show on Israel's Army Radio. The prankster went on the air on a popular show hosted by Erel Segal and was interviewed for 90 seconds before the radio station's staff realized they have been duped. (Haaretz)
12:06 P.M. Thousands of security forces deployed, roads closed minutes before Trump lands
Thousands of Israeli police, border police and volunteers deployed throughout Jerusalem for Trump's arrival as main roads will be blocked off, including large portions of Highway 1 and Highway 6. Police told the public to use the navigation application Waze when driving in the area, saying that it would plan routes in consideration of the closed roads and heavy-traffic areas. (Yaniv Kubovitch)
1:27 A.M. White House welcomes Israeli economic measures designed to benefit Palestinians
The White House praised Israel's decision to implement economic measures designed for Palestinians in the West Bank, including permits for thousands of homes in Area C, where Israel has total civil and security control.
"President Trump welcomes an Israeli decision to implement a series of measures designed to begin improving both the Palestinian economy and the quality of life for the Palestinian public," the White House said in a statement. (Barak Ravid)
10:11 A.M. Donald Trump departs Saudi Arabia for Israel
U.S. President Donald Trump's trip to Israel has been met with both excitement and trepidation, and has everyone speculating about he will do and what he should try to achieve during his visit. Here are eight must-read opinions from Haaretz's writers.
It could never be confused with a Trump property: It lacks the glitz and the gold plating, not to mention the height. But there was never any doubt that when he pulled into Jerusalem on Monday, Donald Trump would be lodging at the King David Hotel. Even as the competition for the dollars of luxury travelers increases – with the addition just during the past decade of both the Mamilla Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria, both within walking distance of the 87-year-old King David – it’s still clear that the latter is the capital’s premier hostelry. (David B. Green)
When Trump arrives in Jerusalem, huge billboards proclaiming “Trump is a Friend of Zion” and requesting “Trump Make Israel Great” will greet him.
It will be hard for the American leader to avoid them. Altogether, 42 billboards featuring intertwined Israeli and American flags have been erected around the city at a total cost of $100,000.
So who’s behind this big campaign? The billboards bear the name Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, but in fact, the initiative is really the brainchild of one man – Mike Evans, the founder of this institution and among the first Christian evangelical leaders to declare his support for Trump's presidential run. (Judy Maltz)
Like the Palestinian government, which has been positively surprised by some recent statements from the Trump administration, social activists have also taken a relatively positive view of the visit. Nimala Kharoufeh, a member of the Fatah youth movement and the founder of nearby Beit Jala’s Beit Ashams community center, focused on comments that have raised some hopes locally, such as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mention of the importance of Palestinian self-determination. However, her take following the speech is “unchanged,” she said. “I feel really positive, not that I have high expectations, but I’m positive about this visit. Not moving this embassy to Jerusalem is another positive step, so nothing in the speech changed my position.” (Noga Tarnopolsky, Bethlehem)
9:15 A.M. Jerusalem braces for Trump's visit
The hospitality sector in Israel has geared up for the arrival on Monday of U.S. President Donald Trump and his sizeable entourage, as well as the press corps coming to cover the visit.
The Israel Airports Authority has asked people using Ben-Gurion International Airport around midday on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, when he will be departing, to get to the airport early and be in touch with their airlines regarding possible changes in flight times.
International flights on low-cost carriers that normally use Terminal 1 are being transferred to Terminal 3 until early Wednesday morning. Domestic flights from the airport to Eilat will operate normally. Trump’s presence will also be disrupting highway traffic and security will be particularly tight. (Gili Melnitcki)
If the Israeli government truly seeks peace as it claims, it must harness Trump’s determination in order to bravely draft its path to a diplomatic solution. The Israeli right is torn between the annexationist wing and the wing that believes the only solution is the division of the country one way or another. Those who oppose annexation, most of the nation, must take advantage of Trump’s special temperament by joining together to say no to the annexationist right and opening a new chapter in the Middle East. (Haaretz Editorial)
The visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority could be the perfect opportunity for Jared Kushner to take the stage and increase his involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian file. But in order for that to happen, the president's arguably closest adviser will need to find time in an increasingly packed schedule, a schedule that could become even tighter if the recent rumors and allegations connecting him to the investigation into Trump's ties with Russia turn out to be true. (Amir Tibon)
Donald Trump changed America’s standing in the Middle East on Sunday, perhaps historically. He reversed eight years of foreign policy carried out by his predecessor, Barack Obama. He positioned himself as champion of Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islam and as chief adversary of Iran and the Shia. He embraced the kingdoms, sheikdoms, dictatorships, military regimes and popular democratic republics of political Islam and absolved them of the human rights and democratic mumbo-jumbo that Obama used to torment them with. Like Benjamin Netanyahu before him, Trump is now Mr. Terror, a leader for whom all other considerations are subordinate to the fight against it. (Chemi Shalev)
It’s usually easy for Israel to put on a good show for the intelligent statesman on his first visit. For a start, they can take him to one of the high-tech hubs and present a few snazzy start-ups. There’s even one right next to the makeshift helipad at First Station. But one can imagine Trump’s eyes glazing over minutes into the explanation of any cutting-edge innovation. Even the sums of money made in high-tech exits are unlikely to impress an old-fashioned businessman who made (and lost) billions through tangible real estate and glitzy branding. Just the very idea of making a profit out of ideas is alien. The closest he ever got to selling ideas was the Trump University scam. (Anshel Pfeffer)
The visit to Jerusalem is important to both Trump and Netanyahu for the same reason. Both want to show that the tensions that characterized the U.S.-Israeli relationship during Barack Obama’s eight years in office are over. Both want the public parts of the visit to be full of symbolic gestures, photo-ops and expressions of incredible friendship, that will leave no doubt as to the state of bilateral relations – the complete opposite of the Obama era.
But the love with which Trump will envelope Netanyahu during the visit could turn out to be a honey trap for the premier. Netanyahu could find hints of this during Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, which he delivered just as the security cabinet was being convened to approve a package of economic concessions for the Palestinians. If Netanyahu had left the security cabinet meeting to watch Trump’s speech he would have been delighted. (Barak Ravid)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has required all cabinet ministers to attend the reception ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday. A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu issued his instructions after finding out that most ministers were not planning on attending the event.
During a Sunday meeting of coalition heads, Netanyahu was notified that there would be a sparse attendance of ministers at the reception and that most party heads wouldn't participate in it. Netanyahu was furious and blew up the meeting, a senior official who attended the meeting said. Immediately afterwards, the Prime Minister's Bureau issued an instruction to all government ministers according to which they must participate in the airport reception. (Barak Ravid)
7:00 A.M. - Behind the Scenes of the Trump Administration's Tug-of-war Over the Israel Embassy Move
Keep the embassy in Tel Aviv or move it to Jerusalem? The issue has turned into a fierce struggle between Trump's advisers and his top cabinet members. He has until June 1 to decide. Barak Ravid has all the inside information.
6:45 A.M. - These are the voices whispering in Trump’s ear about Israel and how to make the 'ultimate deal'
Lacking a clear and consistent policy to go on, many observers are looking for clues by examining what the president’s advisers on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are calling for. And while most U.S. administrations in recent decades have housed different schools of thought, the diverse range of opinions in the Trump administration seems truly extraordinary.
So who are the people advising the 45th president on Israel, and what are they telling him? Here’s a list from both inside and outside the administration.