Fresh off his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Trump is presently visiting Israel as part of his nine-day international tour. After receiving a warm welcome by Saudi Arabia’s leadership, many in the establishment media did not expect him to have as positive a reception in Israel. The president arrived in the Jewish state amid tensions resulting from his recent meeting with Russian officials – among other things.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to the United States to meet with President Trump in February, it seemed the relationship between the two was off to a great start. After eight years of thinly-veiled hostility between the Obama administration and the Israeli Prime Minister, supporters of the Jewish state were looking forward to repaired relations between the two nations. However, due to recent events, it seems the Trump administration may have hit a snag in its efforts to foster a deeper connection with Israeli leadership.
Last week, President Trump met with two Russian officials and discussed secret intelligence regarding the Islamic State. Israel was the source of the information, and intelligence officials are concerned about the possibility that the information might expose the Israelis responsible for providing it. The other dangerous aspect of this conversation is the fact that Russia might share this intelligence with Iran – one of their closest allies. If this happens, it will have been a grave misstep by the president.
Another sticking point for American/Israeli relations is the location of the U.S. Embassy. President Trump had previously stated his intention to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This gesture would have been an acknowledgment by the United States that Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel. Naturally, this would be a controversial statement – which could be the reason the president has decided not to move the embassy at this point. Trump is concerned about the potential effect on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
While these factors may not have been ideal, it seems they did not cause irreparable harm to the alliance between the U.S. and Israel; indeed, both leaders reiterated their commitment to working together in the years to come. President Trump met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Naturally, the issue of Mr. Trump’s meeting with the Russians came up. The president defended his actions saying: “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel. Never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong.” During their meeting, Netanyahu stated that the intelligence cooperation between the two countries is “terrific.”
The remarks the of the two leaders after the meeting affirmed the lasting connection between Israel and the United States. President Trump said: “We are more than friend – we are great allies.” The Israeli Prime Minister also expressed his appreciation of Mr. Trump’s actions against the Syrian regime. He said, “I want you to know how much we appreciate your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”
Regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, President Trump expressed his desire to see the two sides broker a lasting peace agreement. He stated that he sees this issue as an integral component to establishing promoting stability in the region. The president is expected to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian National Authority on Tuesday. When he met with Abbas earlier this month, he discussed the situation in Gaza and the West Bank but stopped short of supporting a two-state solution.
So far, President Trump’s visit to Israel seems to have gone swimmingly. The events of the past week do not appear to have been as cataclysmic as the establishment media has led people to believe. As a matter of fact, all indications show that the connection between the two nations is as strong as ever. While a resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict still seems unattainable, at least the Trump administration can work to strengthen our relationship with our closest ally in the Middle East.
*Slider photo courtesy Conservative Tribune