Posts Tagged ‘Netanyahu’

Jared Kushner Calls on Netanyahu in Israel Amid New Middle East Peace Effort

June 21, 2017


JUNE 21, 2017 18:12

Kushner is currently in Israel on a short visit to help assist in Mideast peace negotiations.

Jared Kushner and Prime Minister Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Trump administration senior adviser Jared Kushner in his Jerusalem office on Wednesday.

Kushner, who is also US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, was accompanied by White House lead international negotiator Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Kushner is currently in  Israel on a short visit to help assist in Mideast peace negotiations.

Netanyahu warmly welcomed his American guests and commented during their meeting that the present moment offers an “opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace.”

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“I know of your efforts and the president’s efforts and I look forward to working with you to reach these common goals,”  he continued, adding that he sends his warmest regards to President Trump.

Kushner thanked the prime minister for the reception, saying that it was “an honor to be here.”

Before their meeting in the capital, Kushner visited the mourning family of slain Border Police officer St.-Sgt-Maj. Hadas Malka, shortly after arriving to Israel in a bid to restart peace talks.

Malka, 23, was killed Friday evening while guarding the Old City’s Damascus Gate in a terrorist attack carried out by three Palestinian assailants armed with knives and an improvised automatic weapon after illegally entering Jerusalem from the West Bank.

According to a Malka family spokesperson, Kushner, who was accompanied by Friedman, spent roughly 30 minutes with her parents during the shiva (week-long family mourning period in Judaism) call.

“He offered the condolences to the bereaved family from the US president, who spoke to his son-in-law on the way and asked that he be kept updated about the visit,” the friend told Ynet.

“Kushner said that the president himself asked him to express condolences on behalf of the United States.”

The Trump administration has placed a high premium on restarting Mideast peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, repeatedly referring to a final-status agreement as “the ultimate deal.”

Daniel Eisenbud contributed to this report.




Jared Kushner Arrives in Israel — Visit aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

June 21, 2017
The Jerusalem Post
JUNE 21, 2017 14:30


Trump’s son-in-law starts one-day visit in which he’s due to try to bring Israel, Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner . (photo credit:REUTERS)

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior Middle East advisor, Jared Kushner, visited the mourning family of slain Border Police officer St.-Sgt-Maj. Hadas Malka, shortly after arriving to Israel on Wednesday in a bid to restart peace talks.

Malka, 23, was killed Friday evening while guarding the Old City’s Damascus Gate in a terrorist attack carried out by three Palestinian assailants armed with knives and an improvised automatic weapon after illegally entering Jerusalem from the West Bank.

According to a Malka family spokesperson, Kushner, who was accompanied by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, spent roughly 30 minutes with her parents during the shiva (week-long family mourning period in Judaism) call.

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“He offered the condolences to the bereaved family from the US president, who spoke to his son-in-law on the way and asked that he be kept updated about the visit,” the friend told Ynet.“Kushner said that the president himself asked him to express condolences on behalf of the United States.”

During the visit, Malka’s parents spoke of their daughter’s bravery and patriotism, noting that she joined the elite Border Police following her IDF service in the Navy.

“Her father told [Kushner] and the ambassador that she always said to [her parents] that it is important to guard the capital of Israel, because if we don’t protect the capital, there won’t be a state,” spokesperson said.

“The ambassador was also apprised of developments regarding the investigation, which began with the arrest of the [east Jerusalem man] who drove the terrorists to the site of the attack, as well as the arrest of one of the terrorist’s mother [for helping them].

“The father told him that on one hand, there is a mother who is crying and in pain over the death of her daughter. On the other hand, there is a mother who is praising and glorifying her son who should have killed more people, from her point of view.”

The family spokesperson added: “The father addressed this stark contrast.”





JERUSALEM — Jun 21, 2017, 10:00 AM ET

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, arrived in the region on Wednesday for a daylong visit aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Trump has tasked Kushner with the ambitious goal of laying the groundwork for what he calls the “ultimate deal” — but deep divisions remain, clouding chances of a significant breakthrough in one of the longest Mideast crises.

Kushner first met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli envoy in Washington Ron Dermer and American Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem.

A video released by Netanyahu’s office shows him embracing Kushner and saying: “This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace.”

Later, Kushner will meet with and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

This month marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war — a seminal event in which Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim these territories for their future independent state.

After two decades of failed U.S.-led peace efforts, Palestinian statehood seems distant. Envoy Jason Greenblatt has already made several visits.

Even before his meetings, Kushner faced a new crisis.

On the eve of his arrival, Israel broke ground on a new West Bank settlement for residents of an illegally built outpost that was dismantled in February under orders from the Supreme Court.

Netanyahu had vowed to compensate the residents of Amona with a new settlement, built on a nearby site in the northern West Bank.

“The people of Amona really appreciate his efforts and the efforts from his office in fulfilling this commitment that started to come alive to create this new community,” said Avichai Boaron, a spokesman for the settlers.

The move has infuriated the Palestinians, who say all settlements are illegal obstacles to peace. Trump has asked Israel to show “restraint” in its settlement construction.

“This is the way Netanyahu is meeting Trump’s envoys,” said Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian official. “The real question here is will the administration of Trump tell Israel that it is enough and they have to stop immediately all settlement activities, or they will accept this Israeli provocation?”

Kushner did not speak to reporters ahead of his talks Wednesday, and Israeli security agents blocked AP cameramen from filming the arrival of his convoy. In one case, a cameraman was ordered to leave a sidewalk outside the government compound that houses Netanyahu’s office, and in other case, a cameraman was ordered to delete his memory card of all images of the prime minister’s office.

Once on the ground, Kushner immediately paid a condolence visit to the family of a young female Israeli police officer who was killed by Palestinian attackers over the weekend near Jerusalem’s Old City. Kushner said Trump asked him to personally convey the condolences of the American people.

Three Palestinian attackers armed with an automatic weapon and knives assaulted officers on duty near the Old City in two locations on Friday evening.

Police said Staff Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka, 23, was rushing to respond to the initial attack nearby when a Palestinian assaulted her with a knife. Malka wrestled with the man for several seconds as he stabbed her multiple times before other officers saw what was happening and opened fire, killing him, police said. She later died of her wounds in hospital.

Thousands attended her funeral Saturday night. Netanyahu visited her grieving family on Sunday and called Malka “everybody’s daughter and everybody’s hero.” He also criticized Abbas for not condemning the attack.

It was the latest incident in a wave of Palestinian attacks that began in September 2015. Since then, Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbing attacks. Some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during the same period, most of them identified as attackers by Israel.

Israel Begins Reducing Gaza Power Supply After Abbas Cuts Payment

June 19, 2017

GAZA — Israel began reducing its electricity feed to the Gaza Strip on Monday, deepening an energy crisis, after the Palestinian Authority limited how much it pays for power to the enclave run by the rival Hamas group.

The cutback, announced last week by the Israeli government, is expected to shorten by at least 45 minutes the daily average of four hours of power that Gaza’s 2 million residents receive from an electricity grid dependent on Israeli supplies, Palestinian officials said.

The Palestinian Energy Authority said the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) had cut by eight megawatts the 120 megawatts it supplies to the Gaza Strip over power lines.

An IEC spokeswoman confirmed a cutback had begun, in line with the West Bank-based Palestinian government’s decision to cover only 70 percent of the monthly cost of Israeli electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet gave the state-owned IEC the green light to implement the reduction, saying that Israel would not cover the shortfall in PA payments.

The Palestinian Authority said it had acted because Hamas had failed to reimburse it for the electricity. But the PA’s move was widely seen as a bid to pressure Hamas to relinquish its hold on the enclave the Islamist group seized in 2007.

Any worsening of the power crisis – Gaza’s main electrical plant has been off-line for two months in a Hamas-PA dispute over taxation of fuel supplies – could cause the collapse of health services, local health officials said.

Hospitals largely rely on generators for power, as do Gaza residents who can afford the high cost of fuel to run them.

(Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alison Williams)


Gaza: Ordinary people the victims as electricity supply becomes the latest weapon in Hamas, Fatah dispute

Posted yesterday at 5:19pm

Baby boy hooked up to a respirator machine in the Intensive Care Unit.

Ageing, destroyed infrastructure, a 10-year Israeli blockade and a new tax fight between Palestine factions has led to a major electricity crisis in the impoverished Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Outside Gaza’s Rantissi Children’s Hospital, the generator is going full throttle.

With electricity in Gaza down to just three to four hours a day, the machine has been running for up to 12 hours straight, powering crucial equipment in the intensive care unit (ICU) that keeps children alive.

But three weeks ago, ICU staff here faced a nightmare scenario.

“The generator just stopped working,” says Muhammad Abunada, the hospital’s director.

“It malfunctioned because it was overloaded.”

Nurse treats a baby

As technicians raced to get the generator back online, doctors and nurses madly pumped away on manual respirators in order to keep their tiny patients alive.

Dr Abunada says it was an agonising 10 minutes before the machine kicked back in.

“This never happened in the history of the intensive care unit before, that we had to do manual respiration on children like this,” the director tells the ABC.

Down at Gaza’s seafront, you can smell the effect of the power crisis before you can see it.

Pipe on Gaza's beachfront spews sewage into the Mediterranean.

Up and down the coast here, pipes spew the sewage of Gaza’s 2 million residents straight into the Mediterranean, posing an environmental disaster not just for Gaza but also for neighbouring Israel and Egypt.

“More and more untreated sewage, 100,000 cubic metres a day now, is entering into the sea because there isn’t enough energy around to treat it properly,” says Robert Piper, the UN’s top humanitarian official for Gaza.

Blue water contrasts with brown water

Locals hostage to warring Palestinian factions

Gaza’s energy crisis stems from a combination of political failure and deliberate policy execution.

Repeated airstrikes by Israel on Gaza’s power plant since 2006 have left the electricity infrastructure in the strip in a dire state.

Meanwhile, a proposed gas plant to replace the damaged diesel facility has been delayed for years, partly due to Israel’s 10-year blockade on the territory, which began when the militant, rocket-firing Islamist group Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

But this most recent crisis is due to a tax fight between warring Palestinian factions.

Hamas says it can no longer afford to pay hefty diesel fuel taxes to the Palestinian Authority, which is run by Fatah, the Western-backed Palestinian party that rules the West Bank.

As a result, Fatah has told Israel to cut electricity to Gaza because it doesn’t want to continue to subsidise its political rival.

A man stands with a horse in front of a razor wire fence encasing a power plant

It’s a dirty game, where the misery of the people of Gaza is used as a bargaining chip for political gain by all sides.

“I think this is what’s most disturbing about all this is that if you’re a Gazan living in Gaza today, no-one is looking out for your interests,” Mr Piper says.

“You’re caught between these political conflicts. You can’t leave. There is a wall around you. The air, the sea, the land is blockaded by Israeli security forces. You can’t vote with your feet. You really are trapped.”

This week, Mr Piper described the people of Gaza as being held “hostage” in the long-standing dispute between Fatah and Hamas.

He says if a request by the Palestinian Authority to make further cuts to Gaza’s electricity is implemented, power supplies will go down to as little as two hours a day.

It is warned that this could lead to a “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in the strip.

“A further increase in the length of blackouts is likely to lead to a total collapse of basic services, including critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors,” Mr Piper says.

Patients undergo dialysis

‘We, the ordinary people, are the victims’

As their leaders squabble, Gaza’s poor feel utterly abandoned.

“When I tell my kids there is no electricity and I can’t cook or bake, they don’t understand,” 52-year-old Um Mohammad says sadly.

In her small concrete house in the neighbourhood of Beit Lehiya, the mother of eight is trying to prepare a meal for her extended family to break their Ramadan fast.

Um handers a flattened, circular piece of dough, ready to be placed in the row next to several other pieces

She’s spent all afternoon making dough but now the power has cut out and she can’t bake.

“We, the ordinary and poor people, are the victims of the conflict between the leaders, Fatah and Hamas,” she says.

“This is not a normal life. There is no power, nothing. Everything here is broken.”

Six children sit on a bench and seven children sit on the floor of a small room

Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, territorial-disputes, government-and-politics, world-politics, palestinian-territory-occupied

Netanyahu urges UN to dismantle its Palestinian aid agency

June 11, 2017


© POOL/AFP | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on June 11, 2017


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Sunday for the United Nations to shut down its Palestinian refugee aid agency, saying it was responsible for incitement against the Jewish state.

Netanyahu said he raised the issue during the visit in recent days of Washington’s UN envoy Nicky Haley, who has accused the United Nations of bias against Israel.

“I told her that the time had come for the United Nations to reconsider the continued existence of UNRWA,” his office quoted him as saying, referring to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency.

He said that while millions of other refugees around the world were cared for by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only the Palestinians have their own body.

“In UNRWA’s institutions, there is a great deal of incitement against Israel,” Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting.

He also said the agency’s very existence “perpetuates and does not solve the Palestinian refugee problem”.

“Therefore it is time to dismantle UNRWA and merge its parts into the UNHCR,” he added.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the agency’s future could not be decided unilaterally.

“UNRWA receives its mandate from the UN General Assembly and only the UN General Assembly, by a majority vote, can change our mandate,” he told AFP, adding that in December the assembly extended the mandate for a further three years.

UNRWA runs hundreds of schools for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

It also distributes aid and provides teacher training centres, health clinics and social services.

Israel views the agency as biased against it and its Palestinian staff as frequently hostile.

In February, the Jewish state complained the head of the UNRWA staff union in Gaza was politically active in the militant Islamist group Hamas, which rules the coastal strip.

On June 1, UNRWA discovered a section of a Hamas tunnel running under two of its schools in the strip’s Maghazi refugee camp, the agency has said.

Hamas has denied building the Maghazi tunnel, whose discovery drew condemnation from both UNRWA and Israel.

On Friday, Israel sent a letter of protest to the UN Security Council over the matter.

Over the years, Hamas has built a labyrinth of tunnels, some passing under the border into Israel in order to launch attacks.

China open to “active role” in advancing Middle East peace

May 30, 2017

MAY 30, 2017 11:48
Chinese special envoy to the Middle East, Gong Xiaosheng, made the remarks during a meeting Monday night with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

abbas china Gong Xiaosheng

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with China’s Special Envoy on the Middle East Issue Gong Xiaosheng [File 2016]. (photo credit:CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY)

China is willing to play an active role in pushing forward the frozen peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported Tuesday.

The report cited remarks made by Chinese special envoy to the Middle East, Gong Xiaosheng, during a meeting on Monday night with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

During the convening, Abbas reportedly briefed Gong on recent developments, notedly regarding the PA leader’s visit to Washington in April, his trip to Russia in early May and his meeting with US President Donald Trump last week in Bethlehem.

While the Trump administration is weighing a drive to resume Israeli-Palestinian talks through a regional process, China is looking to increase its role in the Middle East, particularly with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Syrian crisis. It is one of the six world powers and one of five members of the UN Security Council with veto power.

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In the meeting with Abbas on Monday, Gong additionally underlined China’s support of the Palestinians and their geopolitical aspirations.

Along with bilateral diplomatic relations, the Chinese envoy expressed his country’s readiness to bolster economic ties with the Palestinians. Abbas hailed the comments and the Palestinian Authority’s “special” relations with the East Asian nation.

China is one of Israel’s top trading partners, but the two governments are often at odds on regional issues.

Beijing has strong ties with Tehran and recognizes Palestine as a state.

In mid-March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited China for three days to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Ahead of the visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “The issue of Palestine is an open wound in the Middle East. Peace may be delayed, but justice cannot be denied. China firmly supports the two-state solution and will continue to do what we can to help restart the peace talks.”



Palestinian prisoners in Israel jails end hunger strike

May 27, 2017


© AFP/File | Palestinian women hold portraits of relatives imprisoned in Israeli jails during a protest in front of the Red Cross offices in east Jerusalem, on May 25, 2017


Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17 have ended their protest, Palestinian and Israeli sources said on Saturday.

Palestinian Prisoners Club chief Qaddura Fares said an agreement had been reached between the strikers and Israeli authorities on improving their conditions.

An Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman confirmed the hunger strike was over.

Israeli authorities conceded to one of the prisoners’ main demands — that they should have two family visits a month instead of the one they were entitled to before the strike, the spokeswoman said.

The resolution of the strike came hours before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

A number of the strikers had been in sharply declining health.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had urged US counterpart Donald Trump to raise the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the region earlier this week.

Demonstrations in support of the prisoners had been held across the occupied West Bank leading to repeated bloody clashes with Israeli security forces.

© AFP/File / by Hossam Ezzedine | The leader of hundreds of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, Marwan Barghouti, who has received his first Red Cross visit since the strike began, flashes the victory sign after a court hearing in 2003

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas asks the U.S. to mediate between Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike

May 25, 2017


© PPO/AFP | US President Trump’s envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt (L) meets with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 25, 2017


Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Thursday he has asked the United States to mediate on a standoff between Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners on a weeks-long hunger strike.

Speaking to senior members of his Fatah party in Ramallah after meeting President Donald Trump’s special representative Jason Greenblatt, Abbas said he had spelt out his position to the visitor who would convey it to the Israelis.

“We have explained in detail to American envoy Jason Greenblatt the issue of the prisoner strike and we have called for American intervention to ensure that the rights of prisoners are protected and their humanitarian demands are granted,” he said.

“We shall be in touch with him to give us the answer of the Israeli side,” he said, adding he hoped to announce a response “in the evening or tomorrow”.

Greenblatt is in Israel and the Palestinian territories to follow up on Trump’s visit earlier in the week and to build on his plans for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, according to Israeli media.

The hunger strike, which began on April 17, is being led by prominent Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti is serving five life sentences for murders committed during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been refusing food over conditions for about 6,500 Palestinian inmates.

Among their demands are access to telephones, more family visits, improved medical care and an end to punitive solitary confinement.

UK suspends intelligence sharing with US over Manchester media leaks

May 25, 2017


© Oli Scarff, AFP | Flags fly at half-mast as British police patrol outside Greater Manchester police headquarters during a visit by Prime Minister Theresa May on May 23.

Latest update : 2017-05-25

Police have stopped sharing intelligence on the Manchester Arena attack with the United States after a series of leaks to the press that they say may have “undermined” the ongoing counter-terrorism investigation.

British police said Thursday that such recklessness with sensitive information has jeopardised the mutual trust that underpins security cooperation between foreign partners.

“When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families,” said a National Counter Terrorism Policing spokesperson.

“This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”

Forensic evidence gathered at the scene by British police was published by The New York Times on Wednesday, including detailed descriptions and photos of the remains of the bomb, a detonator and a shredded backpack possibly used by the bomber.

Following a series of unauthorised disclosures to US media earlier in the week, Britain believes US officials were also responsible for leaking the crime scene photos to the press.

The decision to stop sharing information with US authorities was made by the Greater Manchester police and not the prime minister’s office, a Downing Street spokesman told the Guardian, adding that officers have a certain degree of latitude in such matters and calling it an “operational matter”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will address the leaks when she meets with US President Donald Trump at a NATO summit in Brussels later on Thursday. May said she would underscore that any shared intelligence “must remain secure”.

A senior government source said the UK was “furious” over the breaches and that Britain had made its objections known “at every relevant level”.

“These images from inside the American system are clearly distressing to victims, their families and other members of the public,” the source said. “Protests have been lodged at every relevant level between the British authorities and our US counterparts. They are in no doubt about our huge strength of feeling on this issue. It is unacceptable.”

The new round of US media revelations came even after US officials had been warned over previous leaks involving the Manchester investigation.

Britain’s interior minister, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, said in an interview aired Wednesday that she made clear to US officials that such leaks “shouldn’t happen again”.

Rudd noted that it was important to control the flow of information on any ongoing investigation to ensure police maintain the advantage of an “element of surprise”.

“The British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise,” she told BBC Radio 4‘s “Today” programme.

“So it is irritating when it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”

You can listen to the full interview with the home secretary here 👇 

Photo published for Manchester attack: 'It is likely suspect was not alone', Best of Today - BBC Radio 4

Manchester attack: ‘It is likely suspect was not alone’, Best of Today – BBC Radio 4

Home Secretary Amber Rudd on the Manchester terror attack

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said that he also complained to the US ambassador over the initial leaks, calling them “arrogant, wrong & disrespectful” in a twitter post on Thursday.

Israel reviews US cooperation

A series of US indiscretions has raised questions about the current administration’s commitment to the levels of confidentiality necessary to protect intelligence sources and ongoing operations. Trump dismayed both US politicians and foreign allies earlier this month when he revealed top secret intelligence on Islamic State (IS) group plans to threaten airliners in an Oval Office meeting with Russian officials.

He raised more concerns on Monday during a trip to Israel, when he announced to Israeli officials that he never identified Israel as having been the source of the intelligence on the IS group plans.

“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name ‘Israel’,” Trump said as a press conference was finishing. “Never mentioned it during that (Oval Office) conversation.”

But to many observers, the pronouncement seemed to be an admission that the source had, in fact, been Israel. “Donald Trump appears to have inadvertently confirmed that Israel was the source of intelligence he shared with Russia,” the Guardian observed.

Pres. Trump says he never mentioned Israel supposedly in reference to Russia meeting after Netanyahu calls intel cooperation “terrific.”

News of the revelation was being taken very seriously by the Israeli spy community, a military intelligence officer told USA Today last week. The officer, who asked not to be identified, said Israel had been warned months ago to be cautious about sharing information with the Trump administration and that it now looked like the warning was justified.

Israel appeared to take steps to address its concerns on Wednesday, with Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman announcing that Israeli officials had done a “spot repair” of their intelligence-sharing arrangements with Washington.

“We discussed the issue with our friends in America,” Liberman told Army Radio. “We did our checks.”

Liberman did not specify what alterations had been made, saying: “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” But he added that the US-Israeli alliance remained strong and that, overall, there is “unprecedented intelligence cooperation with the United States”.

Other US allies also appear to be on edge over the Trump administration’s penchant for disclosure.

A senior European intelligence official told The Associated Press last week that his country might stop sharing sensitive information with the United States if it is confirmed that Trump shared classified intelligence with Russian officials, saying that to do otherwise “could be a risk for our sources”. The official spoke on condition of anonymity and declined to have his country identified.

Burkhard Lischka, a senior lawmaker from Germany’s Social Democratic Party, also expressed concern about the reports, saying, “if it proves to be true that the American president passed on internal intelligence matters, that would be highly worrying”.

Lischka, a member of the German parliament’s intelligence oversight committee, observed that the US president has access to “exclusive and highly sensitive information, including in the area of combating terrorism”.

He said that if the president “passes this information to other governments at will, then Trump becomes a security risk for the entire western world”.

Trump says concerns about Iran driving Israel, Arab states closer — Tells Israelis, Palestinians: “There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran.”

May 23, 2017


Mon May 22, 2017 | 4:55pm EDT

By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason | JERUSALEM
Image may contain: 2 people
US President Donald Trump talks during a briefing after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, in Jerusalem, Monday, May 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that shared concern about Iran was driving Israel and many Arab states closer and demanded that Tehran immediately cease military and financial backing of “terrorists and militias”.

In stressing threats from Iran, Trump echoed a theme laid out during weekend meetings in Saudi Arabia with Muslim leaders from around the world, many wary of the Islamic Republic’s growing regional influence and financial muscle.

Trump has vowed to do whatever necessary to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians, dubbing a peace accord “the ultimate deal”. But ahead of his Holy Land visit, he gave little indication of how he could revive talks that collapsed in 2014.

Trump will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Tuesday and the Palestinian leader said he hoped the meeting could be “useful and fruitful … (and) will bring results”.

But in the Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinians rallied against Trump and burned his picture and an effigy of him.

Trump received a warm welcome in Riyadh from Arab leaders, especially over his tough line on Tehran, which many Sunni Muslim Arab states regard as seeking regional control.

In Jerusalem, in public remarks after talks with Israeli leaders on the first day of his two-day visit, he again focused on Iran, pledging he would never let Tehran acquire nuclear arms.

“What’s happened with Iran has brought many of the parts of the Middle East toward Israel,” Trump said at a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin.

In his comments to Netanyahu, Trump mentioned a growing Iranian influence in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, where it either backs Shi’ite fighters or has sent its own forces.

Trump said there were opportunities for cooperation across the Middle East: “That includes advancing prosperity, defeating the evils of terrorism and facing the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering.”

He also welcomed what he said was Netanyahu’s commitment to pursuing peace and renewed his pledge to achieve a deal.

Netanyahu, in his remarks, did not mention the word “Palestinians”, but spoke of advancing “peace in our region” with Arab partners helping to deliver it.

Israel shares the antipathy many Arab states have toward Iran, seeing the Islamic Republic as a threat to its existence.

“I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran which you enunciated so clearly,” Netanyahu, who had an acrimonious relationship with former U.S. President Barack Obama, told Trump at his official residence.

Trump, who is on his maiden foreign trip since taking office in January, urged Iran to cease “its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias”.


Iran’s newly re-elected, pragmatist president, Hassan Rouhani, said regional stability could not be achieved without Iranian help, and accused Washington of supporting terrorism with its backing for rebels in Syria.

He said the summit in Saudi Arabia “had no political value, and will bear no results”.

“Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran? Who fought against the terrorists? It was Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Syria. But who funded the terrorists?”

Rouhani noted the contrast between young Iranians dancing in the streets to mark the re-election of a leader seeking detente with the West, and images of Trump meeting with a galaxy of Arab autocrats, some of whose countries have spawned the Sunni militants hostile to Washington and Tehran alike.

He also said Iran would continue a ballistic missile program that has already triggered U.S. sanctions, saying it was for defensive purposes only.

Trump’s foreign tour comes in the shadow of difficulties at home, where he is struggling to contain a scandal after firing James Comey as FBI director nearly two weeks ago. The trip ends on Saturday after visits to the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily.

In Jerusalem’s walled Old City, Trump toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place where Israel allows Jews to pray in a city sacred to three religions.

Trump will have visited significant centers of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the end of his trip, a point that his aides say bolsters his argument that the fight against Islamist militancy is a battle between “good and evil”.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Richard Lough and Alison Williams)


Trump, Netanyahu focus on Iran as common enemy

– The Washington Times – Monday, May 22, 2017

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday they see new opportunities for peace in the Middle East, based on a strategy of isolating Iran from other Muslim and Arab states in the region.

At the end of Mr. Trump’s historic first day of meetings in Israel and visits to holy sites, the president said he’s optimistic about “a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace” to the region. But he told Israelis that the price of gaining Arab cooperation in defeating the broader threat of Islamist terrorism must be to reach a long-elusive peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“We must take advantage of the situation,” Mr. Trump said. “There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran.”

Mr. Netanyahu, who has advocated working with Sunni Arab states against Shia-majority Iran, said Israel has a “commitment to peace.” Although eight years of frosty relations with the Obama administration produced no promising results for peace in the Middle East, Mr. Netanyahu said the change in Washington could lead to a different outcome.

“I want you to know how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East,” he told Mr. Trump. “Common dangers are turning former enemies into partners. That’s where we see something new and potentially something very promising.”

Read the rest:

Trump Meets With Israeli Leader in Bid to Revive Peace Process

May 22, 2017

President hopes to restart stalled negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders


Updated May 22, 2017 1:03 p.m. ET

JERUSALEM—President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in an attempt to build on two days of talks in Saudi Arabia about a regional thaw between Arabs and Israelis, but the effort faces early headwinds amid concerns among some Israeli officials about new U.S. arms deals with Persian Gulf states.

Mr. Trump became on Monday the first serving U.S. leader to visit the Western Wall, a shrine holy to…


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This is the raw feed “tick tock” from Haaretz…..

 Trump Says He Hopes to Achieve ‘Toughest Deal of All,’ Israeli-Palestinian Peace
Trump arrives in Israel on first-ever direct flight from Saudi Arabia
■ Trump: Growing realization among Arab neighbors that they have common cause with Israel on Iran

■ Netanyahu: I hope an Israeli PM can one day fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh

Barak Ravid and Amir Tibon May 22, 2017 8:35 PM

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Semi-Hug Moment: US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands in Jerusalem, Monday, May 22, 2017 Ariel Schalit/AP
Analysis Trump plans to shower Israel with love, but it might be a honey trap for Netanyahu
As Trump leaves Saudis for Israel and Palestinians, Kushner moves center stage
Who’s behind the dozens of pro-Trump billboards around Jerusalem?
U.S. President Donald Trump landed in Israel on Monday. Ahead of a talk with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said he did not mention the word “Israel” in his meeting with Russian officials at the White House. Earlier, Trump said there’s a “rare opportunity” to bring security to the region, defeat terror and create harmony and peace. Follow our live updates of the president’s visit as it develops.


8:25 P.M.: Trump: Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is “one of the toughest deals of all”
Following his closed-doors meeting with Netanyahu, Trump says he is willing to cooperate on working toward renewing efforts on reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu in a joint press conference, Trump adds in a reference to the peace agreement: “I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all.” He added, however, that he has “a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually.”

8:09 P.M.: The Netanyahus introduce their son Yair to the Trumps in front of the cameras ahead of delivering joint statements to the press

Moments earlier, Sara Netanyahu complains to Trump: “If we could only paint the walls” of their residence.
7:36 P.M.: Trump’s glaring omission of Russia – the bear in the Mideast room
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U.S. President Donald Trump places a note in a gap in the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 22, 2017.RONEN ZVULUN/AFP

The focus of much of Donald Trump’s swing though Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories has been on heroes and villains. But in the U.S. president’s taxonomy of good and evil, there is one particularly glaring omission. (Bradley Burston) Read the full story
7:29 P.M.: Why Trump’s Western Wall visit is actually bad news for the Israeli right
In an attempt to apply symbolism to every step that Donald Trump takes on his short visit to Israel and the territories, Israeli politicians and the local media have made a major fuss of the fact that Trump is the first U.S. president to visit the Western Wall while in office. They even tried to make it out as some wonderful gesture to Israel and the Jewish people.


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MK Oren Hazan took a selfie with Trump.@oren_haz /twitter


6:07 P.M. During remarks ahead of the meeting with Netanyahu, Trump said he did not mention the word “Israel” in his meeting with Russian officials at the White House.

“Just so that you know – I never mentioned the word Israel,” Trump said. Netanyahu told the press that intelligence cooperation between the two countries was “excellent.”
Trump also touched upon Iran, saying, “Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, that I can tell you.” He added that Iran should be thanking America for getting a “great deal.”
>> Read more: Israel and Washington want to bury Trump’s leak. But the damage is done >>
4:24 P.M. Donald and Melania Trump arrive with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Trump arrives at the Western Wall with his wife Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. In deference to Jewish religious custom, Trump and Kushner (Ivanka Trump’s husband) part ways with them.
Trump and Kushner visit the men’s prayer plaza, while the first lady and daughter visit the women’s section.
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Wearing a skullcap, Trump slips a note with a prayer deep into the Western Wall.
Accompanied by Kushner, Trump receives an explanation about the holy site from Mordechai Eliav, the director-general of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
skip – Trump: issues with Iran brought Middle Eastern countries closer to Israel
Ivanka Trump appears moved during the visit, as she wipes a tear from her cheek after touching the Western Wall. She seems to be deep in thought and prayer. Ivanka and First Lady Melania Trump receive an explanation from several Orthodox women. (Judy Maltz) .
4:04 P.M. The Foreign Ministry responds to the Hazan-Trump selfie scandal
The Foreign Ministry says Knesset Member Oren Hazan, who took an unauthorized selfie with Trump upon his arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, wasn’t among the A-list politician invited to shake the U.S. president’s hand at the reception.
“The Foreign Ministry only invited A-list staff, meaning the State of Israel’s most senior figures,” Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said. “Unfortunately a few people who weren’t on the list of senior staff snuck into the line of hand-shakers and refused to leave despite being asked to do so by the Foreign Ministry.” (Barak Ravid)
3:29 P.M. Trump visits the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He is the first sitting president to visit Jerusalem’s Old City (Judy Maltz)
3:22 P.M. Arab scouts to skip Trump event after police demand removal of their Palestinian-flag emblems (Judy Maltz)
3:05 P.M. In his remarks following his meeting with Rivlin, Trump lauded Israel as an “amazing country… what you’ve done perhaps virtually has never been done before”
“Shalom,” he said. “I am awed by the beauty and majesty of this sacred land.”
Trump accused Iran of fomenting “terrible violence” and said that Israel and the U.S. agree that Iran must never be allowed to possess nuclear weapons and should be forced to cease funding terrorism. He further said that there’s a growing realization among Israel’s Arab neighbors regarding the threat posed by Iran.
He thanked Rivlin and Netanyahu for their commitment to peace with the Palestinians, and said he wants to build stronger trade ties with Israel.
3:00 P.M. Following Trump and Rivlin’s meetings, the two delivered remarks
Rivlin said that “we’re happy to see America is back in the region. America is back.” He said Israel will do everything in its power to assist the U.S. in its commitment to fight ISIS, and expressed appreciation for the U.S. strike on an Syrian airbase in April.
President Trump speaks to Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem as first lady Melania stands with them at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City
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President Trump speaks to Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem as first lady Melania stands with them at the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS
The Jewish people returned to the historic homeland after 2000 years of exile. We created a miracle… In our most difficult times, we never gave up on our dream of living here in peace with our neighbors.”
Rivlin stressed the importance of distancing Iran from Israel’s borders. “We want to move forward,” he said. “We must do it together with America.”
2:37 P.M. Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refuses to say Western Wall is in Israel (Amir Tibon)
skip – Sara Netanyahu to Melania Trump Majority of Israelis love us, unlike the media
2:36 Bannon, Priebus skip out on Trump’s Israel visit, fly home to handle political crisis (Amir Tibon)
2:33 P.M. Israeli media welcomes Trump with English headlines and editorials (Judy Maltz)


U.S. President Donald Trump (L) sits next to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin during their meeting in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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US President Donald Trump, left, meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Monday, May 22, 2017, in Jerusalem. Trump opened his first visit to Israel Monday, a two-day stop aimed at testing the waters for jumpstarting the dormant Middle East peace process.
2:30 P.M. Trump the Impossible. Trump the Asteroid
skip – This is what happened when MK Oren Hazan took a selfie with Trump
There’s a theory that it would take an event as impossibly unlikely, as humanly uncontrollable, as potentially cataclysmic as an asteroid striking the earth, for Israelis and Palestinians to be able to make peace, writes Bradley Burston.

Trump told Rivlin that he believes Iran must 'never' be armed with a nuclear weapon

Trump told Rivlin that he believes Iran must ‘never’ be armed with a nuclear weapon

2:15 P.M. Trump meets with Rivlin
Trump tells Rivlin that “what happened in Iran has turned other parts of the Middle East toward Israel,” noting that these countries “were not feeling so well about Israel not so long ago.”
He said there’s a “great feeling” for peace in the Middle East, and that people “have had enough of the bloodshed and the killing.” He said that he expects to have “interesting talks” while in Israel.
Rivlin told Trump that “we’ve been waiting and praying for peace … and hope someone will bring it.”
President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony in Tel Aviv, May 22,2017, accompanied by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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President Donald Trump speaks during a welcome ceremony in Tel Aviv, May 22,2017, accompanied by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Oded Balilty/AP
skip – Trump’s full opening speech upon his arrival to Israel
2:00 P.M. Melania Trump and ‘s private exchange
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israel’s prime minister, probably had not intended her words for mass consumption. But an informal exchange between the American and Israeli leaders and their spouses, caught on camera after the welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport, said a lot about how she and her husband view the media – and themselves.
“Also us, the press hates and the public loves,” she confided in Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States. This was preceded by the Trump and Netanyahu sharing how much their wives liked one another. (Judy Maltz)

Trump arrived in Israel on Monday from Saudi Arabia, and will next go to Rome for a Papal audience before visiting Brussels and Sicily for NATO and G7 meetings

Trump arrived in Israel on Monday from Saudi Arabia, and will next go to Rome for a Papal audience before visiting Brussels and Sicily for NATO and G7 meetings

1:30 P.M. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tells Trump that there may have been a terror attack in Tel Aviv earlier on Monday – an hour and a half after police declared the incident was a car accident.
1:20 P.M. During the reception for Trump, Education Minister Naftali Bennett told the president that in honor of Jerusalem’s 50th anniversary of unification, “we expect you to be the first president who recognizes united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.” Trump looked at Netanyahu and remarked, “That’s an idea”
1:15 P.M. Knesset Member Oren Hazan repeatedly tries to take a selfie with Trump. Netanyahu tries to push Hazan’s hand away.
1:05 P.M. Trump makes remarks on the tarmac: “On my first trip overseas as president, I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm unbreakable bond between us and Israel.”
“In this land so rich in history, Israel has built one of the world’s greatest civilizations, a strong resilient determined prosperous nation, forged in the commitment that will never allow horrors of last century to be repeated,” he said.
Trump said he met with leaders from across the Arab world and reached “historic agreements” in fights against terror. He said there’s a “rare opportunity” to bring security to the region, defeat terror and create harmony and peace, but said “We can only get there working together, there is no other way.”
He concluded by saying “We love Israel, we respect Israel” and conveying warm greetings from the American people. Read the full text
1:00 P.M. Netanyahu to President Trump: Israel shares your commitment to peace and reaches out its hand to the Palestinians
US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, center, stand in attention during welcome ceremony accompany by the Israeli President Rueben Rivlin and his wife Nechama, on the left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah in Tel Aviv, Monday, May 22,2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania with Trump Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), his wife Sara at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. AMIR COHEN/REUTERS
Netanyahu said Trump’s visit “is truly historic”: “Never before has the first foreign trip of the president of the United States included a visit to Israel.” He thanked Trump for his “powerful expression of your friendship to Israel.”
He said Israel has been fighting terrorism and protecting members of all faiths, “Christians, Muslims, everyone,” while Christians are being prosecuted elsewhere in the Middle East.
“Israel shares you commitment to peace, we’ve already made peace with Egypt Jordan,” he said. “Israel’s hand is extended in peace to all our neighbors, including the Palestinians. We seek genuine, durable peace in which Jewish state is recognized, security remains in Israel’s hands, conflict ends once and for all.”
skip – Netanyahu greets President Trump upon his arrival
He expressed hope one day an “Israeli prime minister will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh.”
12:50 P.M. President Rivlin welcomes Trump in a speech on the Tarmac
“Your visit is a symbol of the unbreakable bond between Israel and America,” Rivlin said. “You are the President of Israel’s greatest, most important ally. You are a true friend of Israel, and of the Jewish people.”
skip – Trump arrives to Israel, shakes hands with Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu
“Mr. President, the world needs a strong United States. The Middle East needs a strong United States. Israel needs a strong United States. And – may I say – the United States also needs a strong Israel… “”Mr. President, today I will have the honor to host you in Jerusalem. We are honored to have you here with us, as we mark fifty years of ‘Jerusalem Day’, Yom Yerushalayim. It makes us very happy to know that Israel’s most important ally recognizes the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish People. Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish People: as it has been for 3000 years.”

“Mr. President. You came here to Israel from Saudi Arabia. In Jerusalem, you will be at the Western Wall, and visit the holy Church, and then you are going to the Vatican. In just one journey you will visit the three holiest places for Islam, Judaism and Christianity. We each have different beliefs – but we all worship the same God. We can work together towards a better future. We shall continue to do so, together. Welcome to Israel. God bless you. God bless America. God bless Israel.” (Barak Ravid)
12:44 The American and Israeli national anthems play on the tarmac
U.S. President Donald Trump signs the guest book at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump signs the guest book at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on May 22, 2017.
12:41 Trump is greeted by Israeli leaders upon descending from Air Force One
As he landed, Trump shook hands with Israeli President Rivlin and his wife Nechama, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara, Israeli ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, and then reached the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who worked for Trump as a lawyer for many years. “Who is this guy? You work out here now?” Trump asked with a smile, and then told Friedman that he “got what he wanted.”
Palestinian men hold a banner bearing a portrait of US President Donald Trump (L) and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) at a printer’s in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, on May 21, 2017, ahead of a two day official visit of Trump in Israel and the Palestinian territories. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER
Palestinian men hold a banner bearing a portrait of US President Donald Trump (L) and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) at a printer’s in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, on May 21, 2017, ahead oMUSA AL SHAER/AFP
Trump then asked Friedman’s wife, Kim, “are you proud of your man?” (Amir Tibon)
12:40 P.M. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner descend from Air Force One
12:22 P.M. Trump touches down in Israel
12:20 P.M. Fake Trump interviewed by Israel’s Army Radio
A radio prankster pretending to be U.S. President Donald Trump succeeded on Monday to secure an interview for himself on a prime-time show on Israel’s Army Radio. The prankster went on the air on a popular show hosted by Erel Segal and was interviewed for 90 seconds before the radio station’s staff realized they have been duped. (Haaretz)
12:11 P.M. Trump visits Israel: 9 Must-read features and analyses
12:06 P.M. Thousands of security forces deployed, roads closed minutes before Trump lands
Thousands of Israeli police, border police and volunteers deployed throughout Jerusalem for Trump’s arrival as main roads will be blocked off, including large portions of Highway 1 and Highway 6. Police told the public to use the navigation application Waze when driving in the area, saying that it would plan routes in consideration of the closed roads and heavy-traffic areas. (Yaniv Kubovitch)
11:43 A.M. Several lightly hurt, including pedestrians, in car crash in central Tel Aviv
1:27 A.M. White House welcomes Israeli economic measures designed to benefit Palestinians
The White House praised Israel’s decision to implement economic measures designed for Palestinians in the West Bank, including permits for thousands of homes in Area C, where Israel has total civil and security control.
“President Trump welcomes an Israeli decision to implement a series of measures designed to begin improving both the Palestinian economy and the quality of life for the Palestinian public,” the White House said in a statement. (Barak Ravid)
11:05 A.M. Trump visits Israel: Here’s his full schedule for day one
10:11 A.M. Donald Trump departs Saudi Arabia for Israel
10:04 A.M. Donald Trump’s visit to Israel: Eight must-read opinions
U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to Israel has been met with both excitement and trepidation, and has everyone speculating about he will do and what he should try to achieve during his visit. Here are eight must-read opinions from Haaretz’s writers.
9:33 A.M. The explosive history of the Jerusalem hotel hosting Trump
It could never be confused with a Trump property: It lacks the glitz and the gold plating, not to mention the height. But there was never any doubt that when he pulled into Jerusalem on Monday, Donald Trump would be lodging at the King David Hotel. Even as the competition for the dollars of luxury travelers increases – with the addition just during the past decade of both the Mamilla Hotel and the Waldorf Astoria, both within walking distance of the 87-year-old King David – it’s still clear that the latter is the capital’s premier hostelry. (David B. Green)
9:21 A.M. Who’s behind the dozens of pro-Trump billboards around Jerusalem?
When Trump arrives in Jerusalem, huge billboards proclaiming “Trump is a Friend of Zion” and requesting “Trump Make Israel Great” will greet him.
It will be hard for the American leader to avoid them. Altogether, 42 billboards featuring intertwined Israeli and American flags have been erected around the city at a total cost of $100,000.
So who’s behind this big campaign? The billboards bear the name Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem, but in fact, the initiative is really the brainchild of one man – Mike Evans, the founder of this institution and among the first Christian evangelical leaders to declare his support for Trump’s presidential run. (Judy Maltz)
9:19 A.M. In Bethlehem, Palestinians confident Trump’s one-hour visit ‘won’t change anything’
Like the Palestinian government, which has been positively surprised by some recent statements from the Trump administration, social activists have also taken a relatively positive view of the visit. Nimala Kharoufeh, a member of the Fatah youth movement and the founder of nearby Beit Jala’s Beit Ashams community center, focused on comments that have raised some hopes locally, such as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mention of the importance of Palestinian self-determination. However, her take following the speech is “unchanged,” she said. “I feel really positive, not that I have high expectations, but I’m positive about this visit. Not moving this embassy to Jerusalem is another positive step, so nothing in the speech changed my position.” (Noga Tarnopolsky, Bethlehem)
9:15 A.M. Jerusalem braces for Trump’s visit
The hospitality sector in Israel has geared up for the arrival on Monday of U.S. President Donald Trump and his sizeable entourage, as well as the press corps coming to cover the visit.
The Israel Airports Authority has asked people using Ben-Gurion International Airport around midday on Monday and Tuesday afternoon, when he will be departing, to get to the airport early and be in touch with their airlines regarding possible changes in flight times.
International flights on low-cost carriers that normally use Terminal 1 are being transferred to Terminal 3 until early Wednesday morning. Domestic flights from the airport to Eilat will operate normally. Trump’s presence will also be disrupting highway traffic and security will be particularly tight. (Gili Melnitcki)
9:14 A.M. Harness Trump’s determination to attain the ultimate Middle East deal
If the Israeli government truly seeks peace as it claims, it must harness Trump’s determination in order to bravely draft its path to a diplomatic solution. The Israeli right is torn between the annexationist wing and the wing that believes the only solution is the division of the country one way or another. Those who oppose annexation, most of the nation, must take advantage of Trump’s special temperament by joining together to say no to the annexationist right and opening a new chapter in the Middle East. (Haaretz Editorial)
9:09 A.M. As Trump leaves Saudis for Israel and Palestinians, Kushner moves center stage
The visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority could be the perfect opportunity for Jared Kushner to take the stage and increase his involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian file. But in order for that to happen, the president’s arguably closest adviser will need to find time in an increasingly packed schedule, a schedule that could become even tighter if the recent rumors and allegations connecting him to the investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia turn out to be true. (Amir Tibon)
9:03 A.M. After Riyadh speech, Trump comes to Israel as a messianic opportunist
Donald Trump changed America’s standing in the Middle East on Sunday, perhaps historically. He reversed eight years of foreign policy carried out by his predecessor, Barack Obama. He positioned himself as champion of Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islam and as chief adversary of Iran and the Shia. He embraced the kingdoms, sheikdoms, dictatorships, military regimes and popular democratic republics of political Islam and absolved them of the human rights and democratic mumbo-jumbo that Obama used to torment them with. Like Benjamin Netanyahu before him, Trump is now Mr. Terror, a leader for whom all other considerations are subordinate to the fight against it. (Chemi Shalev)
9:00 A.M. Israel isn’t a bling nation that can impress Trump. And that’s a good thing
It’s usually easy for Israel to put on a good show for the intelligent statesman on his first visit. For a start, they can take him to one of the high-tech hubs and present a few snazzy start-ups. There’s even one right next to the makeshift helipad at First Station. But one can imagine Trump’s eyes glazing over minutes into the explanation of any cutting-edge innovation. Even the sums of money made in high-tech exits are unlikely to impress an old-fashioned businessman who made (and lost) billions through tangible real estate and glitzy branding. Just the very idea of making a profit out of ideas is alien. The closest he ever got to selling ideas was the Trump University scam. (Anshel Pfeffer)
8:58 A.M. Trump plans to shower Israel with love, but it might be a honey trap for Netanyahu
The visit to Jerusalem is important to both Trump and Netanyahu for the same reason. Both want to show that the tensions that characterized the U.S.-Israeli relationship during Barack Obama’s eight years in office are over. Both want the public parts of the visit to be full of symbolic gestures, photo-ops and expressions of incredible friendship, that will leave no doubt as to the state of bilateral relations – the complete opposite of the Obama era.
But the love with which Trump will envelope Netanyahu during the visit could turn out to be a honey trap for the premier. Netanyahu could find hints of this during Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia, which he delivered just as the security cabinet was being convened to approve a package of economic concessions for the Palestinians. If Netanyahu had left the security cabinet meeting to watch Trump’s speech he would have been delighted. (Barak Ravid)
8:30 A.M. – Fuming Netanyahu orders ministers to attend Trump’s reception after most refuse to show up
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has required all cabinet ministers to attend the reception ceremony for U.S. President Donald Trump at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Monday. A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu issued his instructions after finding out that most ministers were not planning on attending the event.
During a Sunday meeting of coalition heads, Netanyahu was notified that there would be a sparse attendance of ministers at the reception and that most party heads wouldn’t participate in it. Netanyahu was furious and blew up the meeting, a senior official who attended the meeting said. Immediately afterwards, the Prime Minister’s Bureau issued an instruction to all government ministers according to which they must participate in the airport reception. (Barak Ravid)
7:00 A.M. – Behind the Scenes of the Trump Administration’s Tug-of-war Over the Israel
Embassy Move
Keep the embassy in Tel Aviv or move it to Jerusalem? The issue has turned into a fierce struggle between Trump’s advisers and his top cabinet members. He has until June 1 to decide. Barak Ravid has all the inside information.
6:45 A.M. – These are the voices whispering in Trump’s ear about Israel and how to make the ‘ultimate deal’
Lacking a clear and consistent policy to go on, many observers are looking for clues by examining what the president’s advisers on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process are calling for. And while most U.S. administrations in recent decades have housed different schools of thought, the diverse range of opinions in the Trump administration seems truly extraordinary.
So who are the people advising the 45th president on Israel, and what are they telling him? Here’s a list from both inside and outside the administration.
Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent