Photo: Reuters
The president and PM
Photo: Reuters

Netanyahu taking advice before Trump meeting

Preparing for his visit to Washington this week, the prime minister is holding consultations and will speak with his cabinet regarding his meeting with the US president; thus far, one message is that Israel opposes any Iranian presence in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been holding a series of consultations in recent days in preparation for his meeting with US President Donald Trump this week in Washington. On Sunday, Netanyahu will ask his ministers their opinions, as well.



Netanyahu, who will take off on Monday and meet with Trump on Wednesday, is to discuss security and intelligence collaboration between their two countries, as well as Iran, Syria and Palestinians.


Thus far, the consensus is that Israel must express the position to the Trump administration that they oppose any Iranian presence in Syria in any future agreement. While Netanyahu won't ask Trump to cancel the nuclear agreement with Tehran, the prime minister will urge the American president to enforce existing sanctions against Iran and impose additional sanctions against the Islamic Republic's support of terrorism and its missiles program.


Trump and Netanyahu at their last meeting (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Trump and Netanyahu at their last meeting (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)


While the issue of moving the American embassy to Jerusalem will be raised during the meeting, all signs indicate to the administration postponing the move until at least May, when Trump will need to renew a presidential exemption from implementing a law passed in Congress to move the embassy.


The decision to postpone the move is coming because of messages from Jerusalem, among other things, according to which this is not the burning issue at the moment. Trump's meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah and other Arab leaders have also contributed to that decision.


The Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on the matter.


Netanyahu will seek to lower American expectations on the Palestinian issue. The Israeli government is not enthusiastic about talks on a regional intiative by the moderate Arab nations or the new US president's desire to lead to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.


Netanyahu will present a policy that supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with an emphasis on its demilitarization and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The two will discuss the resumption of peace talks and the US blocking unilateral Palestinian initiatives at the UN.


Another topic the two are expected to discuss is settlement construction. The White House has already stated that new settlement construction "may not be helpful" in achievement peace. Netanyahu will try to reach understandings with Trump regarding the extent of construction, where could Israel build and the possibility of annexing parts of Area C.


The prime minister's bureau and national security bodies have held consultations ahead of the meeting. Israel's ambassador in DC, Ron Dermer, has come to Israel to help prepare. On Thursday, a meeting was held at the prime minister's with all the relevant agencies represented. In attendance were Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and the heads of the Military Intelligence Directorate, their research Department, the Mossad and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also involved in preparing the prime minister to meet with the new American president. The ministry has prepared several position papers on various topics for that purpose. The MFA's Director General, Yuval Rotem, presented them to the prime minister in a preparatory meeting.


Netanyahu will also meet with American Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, the Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and with other senators. Netanyahu's wife, Sara, will meet with the American First Lady, Melania.


The prime minister's son, Yair Netanyahu, 26, will join his parents for the visit in Washington and is expected to attend some of the events and meetings. The Netanyahu family's spokesman, Nir Hafetz, said the junior Netanyahu is currently in the US on a private trip and will arrive in Washington at his own expense.


The Israeli delegation will depart the States for Israel on Thursday evening.


Minister of Education Naftali Bennett posted a warning to his Facebook page on Saturday night regarding the two heads of governments' first joint statement, saying that if it mentions "the commitment to the establishment of Palestine or to 'two states' in one wording or another, all of us will feel it in the coming years in our flesh. The earth will tremble."


A political source said even before Bennett's post that ministerial statements before hearing Trump's position in closed forums may sabotage the talks.


Amihai Attali and Tzipi Shmilovitz contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 02.11.17, 23:31
 new comment
This will delete your current comment