On February 15th, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time during Trump’s presidency. In the press conference, both leaders reaffirmed the alliance between the United States and Israel. The two main topics of discussion were Iran and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
President Trump stated his commitment to ensuring that Iran would not be able to develop a nuclear weapon. During the press conference, Trump said, “My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing, I mean, ever, a nuclear weapon.” The President also criticized the Iran deal that made under former President Obama. He described the agreement as “One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of radical Islam as a common enemy to both Israel and the United States. He said,
Our alliance is based on a deep bond of common values and common interests. And increasingly those values and interests are under attack by one malevolent force: Radical Islamic terror.
On the 3rd of February, 2016, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against Iran. The sanctions were a response to Tehran’s test launching of a ballistic missile.
Concerning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Trump re-stated his commitment in regard to Israel’s right to exist. He also expressed his disdain for the United Nation’s unfair treatment of the Jewish State, “This is one more reason why we reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations. It has treated Israel, in my opinion, very unfairly.”
When it comes to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, President Trump said, “It is the parties themselves that must directly negotiate such an agreement.” In a surprising departure from the approaches of previous administrations, Trump did not push for a two-state solution. However, he did say that he would like to see Netanyahu “hold back on the settlements a little bit.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the opportunity to outline two prerequisites for peace with the Palestinians. First, they must recognize Israel as a legitimate state. Second, Israel must be allowed to protect their security in the surrounding regions. He said,
First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction. Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan river because if we don’t, we know what will happen. Because otherwise, we will get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East.
When discussing the settlements, Netanyahu said, “I believe that the issue of the settlements is not the core of the conflict, nor does it really drive the conflict.” It is unclear whether or not the Prime Minister has abandoned the two-state solution.
The result of the meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the reestablishment of the close alliance between the United States and Israel. Relations between the two countries became heavily strained under the Obama administration. This meeting represents a “reset” of the relationship between the two nations.
This press conference serves as an excellent indicator of the future of U.S./Israeli relations. Over the past eight years, the Obama administration has alienated Israel as an ally. The former President’s constant mistreatment of the Prime Minister and his support for terrorist elements in the Palestinian territories created a rift between the United States and Israel. Hopefully, under the Trump administration, we can develop a trusting and efficacious bond with one of our greatest allies. Judging by this latest press conference, we are off to a good start.