Trump sees "rare opportunity" for peace as he arrives in Israel

Trump landed in Jerusalem on Monday for a two-day trip, promising to bring the "ultimate deal" to end the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara and David Friedman, the new United States Ambassador to Israel, upon their arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 22, 2017.

US President Donald Trump arrived in Israel, on Monday. He will separately meet both the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, while in the region, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in an attempt to revive peace talks.

Air Force One landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport after what is believed to be the first direct flight to Israel from Riyadh, where Trump spent two days.

His nine-day trip through the Middle East and Europe and his first foreign tour since taking office in January will end on Saturday after visits to the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily.

Trump was welcomed to Israel by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who described the US president's visit as "truly historic."

"Rare opportunity" for peace

Trump said in public remarks at a meeting in Jerusalem with Rivlin that he saw a "rare opportunity" to bring peace to the Middle East.

He once again singled out Iran, branding it "a state sponsor of terrorism."

"Most importantly, the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon - never, ever - and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately," Trump said.

Trump also said he was deeply encouraged by his conversations with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia ahead of his visit to Israel.

"Many expressed their resolve to help end terrorism and the spread of radicalisation. Many Muslim nations have already taken steps to begin following through on this commitment," he said.

"Ultimate deal"

In a stopover lasting 28 hours, Trump will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

He was scheduled to visit Judaism's Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Monday. On Tuesday he will travel to Bethlehem.

Trump's meeting with Abbas follows recent statements by the US president that he was considering both one-state and two-state solutions to the Palestine-Israel conflict, backing away from decades of US policy that backed a two-state solution.

Netanyahu said Israel shared Trump's commitment to peace, but he also repeated his right-wing government's political and security demands of the Palestinians, including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

"May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path towards reconciliation and peace," Netanyahu said.

Trump has vowed to do whatever is necessary to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, something he has called "the ultimate deal" but has given little indication of how he could revive negotiations that collapsed in 2014.

TRTWorld and agencies