Trump lands in Israel: What to watch

by Antonio Miles May 23, 2017, 0:29

During a news conference with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin Monday, President Trump said he was there to "reaffirm the enduring friendship between the United States and the state of Israel".

Israel considers the entire city to be its capita while the worldwide community says the future of east Jerusalem, claimed by the Palestinians, must be resolved through negotiations.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem, where the Western Wall is located, and the West Bank in 1967 in moves never recognised by the global community.

Israel captured east Jerusalem 50 years ago and claims the area - home to sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites - as part of its capital.

He is to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas Tuesday as he seeks ways to restart moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

The Trumps were scheduled for a private dinner with the Netanyahus on Monday night at the Prime Minister's residence.

But Trump's visit to the wall comes after USA officials who met with Israeli officials to arrange Trump's visit sparked off a controversy by contending that the Western Wall was part of the West Bank - which is not the US' policy.

Trump, who had previously suggested that it would be easier than anticipated to solve the conflict that has vexed his predecessors for decades, said that conditions were right in both Israel and the Arab world to strike what he has called "the ultimate deal".

Mohamed Shtayyeh, a former Palestinian negotiator, told Al Jazeera that the key sticking point was the issue of Israel's illegal settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territory.

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"I have found new reasons for hope", said Trump upon arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Israel's prime minister has praised President Donald Trump's "clarity and conviction" in his speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Trump has talked a lot about the importance of walls and as he makes his way to the West Bank city of Bethlehem to meet with Abbas, Trump will confront one perhaps even more controversial than the one he has vowed to build on the US-Mexico border.

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to meet Abbas in Bethlehem, and immediately thereafter the USA president is slated to return to Jerusalem for a very brief visit to Israel's Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem.

Israeli officials say they are largely in the dark about what ideas Trump might present for peace or what concessions he may demand.

Prior to reaching Israel, Trump stopped in Saudi Arabia where he requested that Islamic leaders not tolerate violence that arises in the name of religion.

The Trump family walked to the wall from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest sites in Christianity, which they visited first, arriving there on foot from the Jaffa Gate. And it leaves open a slew of questions that Trump may be pressed to address while he is in Israel and in the West Bank.

"It's part of the West Bank" - a remark that an Israeli official said was "received with shock".

On the Israeli side, Netanyahu heads what is seen as the most right-wing government in the country's history, and members of his coalition were elated with Trump's election.


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