Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US President Donald Trump at the White House. Photo:
Reuters/Kevin Lamarque.

US President Donald Trump may visit Jerusalem this coming May for the opening of the new American Embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump floated the possibility of the visit during a joint appearance on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after the two leaders met at the Oval Office. Regarding the historic US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, Netanyahu told his American host that “This will be remembered by our people.”

“Others talked about it, you did it,” Netanyahu declared.

Trump expressed some optimism about future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, arguing that effect the US decision on Jerusalem is that “we have a shot at doing it.”

“The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table,” Trump said. “If they don’t, you don’t have peace. You don’t have peace…and that’s a possibility also. I’m not saying it’s going to happen.”

Addressing the cost of relocating the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump said that the final bill would be fraction of the much larger sum suggested by others. “They put an order in front of my desk last week for a billion dollars. I said ‘a billion? What’s that for?’” Trump said. “They said, ‘we’re going to build an embassy.’ I said ‘we’re not going to spend a billion dollars.’ We’re actually doing it for about $250,000.”

Netanyahu made clear that the main strategic issue on his agenda with Trump was Iran’s growing political and military influence in Syria and Lebanon.

“If I had to say what is our greatest challenge in the Middle East to both our countries, to our Arab neighbors, it’s encapsulated in one word: Iran,” Netanyahu said. “Iran has not given up its nuclear ambitions. It came out of this [2015] nuclear deal emboldened, enriched. It’s practicing aggression everywhere, including on our own borders. And I think we have to stop this country that chants, ‘Death to Israel, death to America.’”

“Iran must be stopped. That is our common challenge,” Netanyahu concluded.


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