Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with US President Donald Trump today, providing an opportunity to shift attention away from mounting corruption investigations in Israel and towards Netanyahu’s main foreign policy priority, combatting Iran.
The two leaders are expected to present a united front against Iranian “aggression,” especially in Syria, and call for the modification of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which Trump has threatened to rip up entirely.
In their White House meeting, Netanyahu will also applaud Trump for his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy there.
“I intend to discuss with him a series of issues but first Iran – its aggression, its nuclear aspirations, and its aggressive actions in the Middle East in general and on our borders,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.
The visit comes at a difficult time for Netanyahu, with Israel’s attorney general considering whether to act on police recommendations to put the premier on trial for bribery and other charges.
The prime minister and his wife, Sara, landed in Washington on Sunday, two days after the couple spent hours under police questioning in a new probe of alleged regulatory kickbacks to a telecom company.
The White House meeting, along with his speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference on Tuesday, gives Netanyahu a stage to highlight his foreign policy concerns and achievements.
High on this list is winning Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a break from 70 years of US foreign policy. While that decision outraged Palestinians and was internationally condemned, it has buoyed Netanyahu’s popularity at home.
During the AIPAC conference on Sunday, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced his country’s plans to move its embassy to Jerusalem in May.
“Do you remember I said at the time that after the United States there would be other countries? Here is another country,” Netanyahu said in a video statement published Monday.
“And now I say to you – there will be other countries,” he added.
Netanyahu has not mentioned any prospects for furthering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal during his visit.
The nascent peace process appears to have stalled since Trump’s Jerusalem move as Palestinians have said the US can no longer be a “honest broker.”
White House officials insist that they will present a peace plan at an undisclosed time.
Complicating matters is the status of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and the top White House official responsible for forging peace deal, who had his security clearance downgraded, according to US media reports.(dpa/NAN)