Next stop for Trump is Israel, in pursuit of 'ultimate deal'

Cheryl Sanders
May 21, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he will discuss peace efforts with US President Donald Trump when he visits this week, while the Israeli cabinet considered economic gestures toward the Palestinians.

Trump is expected to shake only the hands of Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin were among those cabinet members planning to skip the ceremony.

When Netanyahu realized the number of ministerial no-shows, he made attendance mandatory, the minister's office told CNN.

Trump is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday afternoon on the second leg of his inaugural worldwide trip.

Initially hailed as a hero by Israel's right wing, Trump campaigned on a promise of moving the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moves that were certain to anger the Palestinians and the wider Arab world. But on Saturday, the ministers were reinvited, this time to watch the ceremony from the sidelines.

Government ministers reportedly had decided not to attend the ceremony because they would be required to arrive 2.5 hours ahead of Trump's arrival, go through a security check, and wait in the reception area. On Tuesday, the president is headed to Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. A 15 minutes-stop at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, will be extended to last half an hour.

Netanyahu also noted the significance of Trump's first presidential overseas trip including a visit to "Jerusalem, the capital of Israel", after Trump seemed to have backed away from his campaign pledge to relocate the USA embassy there from Tel Aviv.

US officials reportedly were concerned about the heat upon the president's arrival and asked for an abbreviated welcome ceremony.

Trump's first official trip outside the U.S. included a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he signed $350-billion arms deal.

Other reports by iNewsToday