Netanyahu and Trump give hopeful speeches for the future
Following a day filled with holy sites and speeches cementing US's ties with Israel, US Pres. Trump and PM Netanyahu give a joint press conference; Netanyahu says that 'for the first time in many years, I see a real hope for change,' while Trump adds that I've been amazed by the generousity of your incredible people. Words fail to capture the experience, it will leave an impression on me forever.'
After a day filled with diplomatic greetings (and selfies), as well as a historic visit to the Western Wall, US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu spoke first, saying that "Sara and I are absolutely delighted to welcome you and Melania to the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the jewish state and the united capital of the Jewish people. You've been to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism and you've been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we protect Christian sites, Muslim sites, Jewish sites, we are committed to the freedom of all faiths and the rights of all.
"I appreciate the fact that you're the first acting president to visit the Western Wall and the people of Israel thank you. I want to thank you especially today for your commitment to Israel and its security. I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran, which you annunciated so clearly an hour ago. I look forward to working closely with you. I believe we can march back iran's goal to become a nuclear state."
Netnayahu continued by saying, "For the first time in many years, I see a real hope for change. the Arab leaders you met yesterday could help change the atmosphere and they could create the environment for a real peace.
"Lincoln said there is no city on earth he'd like to see more than Jerusalem," quipped Netanyahu. "Well Mr. President, there is no city you're more welcome in."
Trump spoke next, saying that "You honored me and Melania by being one of the first leaders to visit the White House. I've been amazed by the generosity of your incredible people, because it's all about the people. Words fail to capture the experience, it will leave an impression on me forever.
Trump outlined the US's relationship with Israel by describing a "friendship built on our shared love of freedom, human dignity and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace. We want Israel to have peace.
"We are more than friends," Trump corrected himself. "We are great allies and we have so many opportunities in front of us, but we must seize them together.
"There are many things that can happen now that couldn't happen before. During my travels, I have seen many hopeful signs that lead me to belive we can achieve a peaceful future in this region.
"In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including the king (of Saudi Arabia—ed) who treated us so beautifully, and who really wants to see great things for the world. I got to know him well and he really does.
"We are willing to work together and I believe a new level of partnership is possible and will happen, which will bring more security to this region and the united states. This includes a renewed effort at peace between the Israelis and Palestinians."
Trump also mentioned Netanyahu's efforts regarding toward peace with the Palestinians. "He's working very hard at it, it's not easy. I hear it's one of the toughest deals of all and I have a feeling we'll get there, I hope.
"We're going to have very productive discussions," added Trump. "There's a lot of love out there.
"Our deep and lasting friendship will only grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead. Truly it is a land of wonders, and its my honor to be here with you."
The Trumps' first day in Israel was marked by a busy schedule. Earlier in the day, Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu visited Haddassah Medical Center and met with the children staying there.
Trump became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall earlier Monday. Wearing a kippah, President Trump arrived at the plaza, where he read several psalms and placed a handwritten note in the wall.
Trump's note was removed shortly after his departure in an effort to avoid a repeat of the 2008 so-called "Obama incident," when a yeshiva student took the then-presidential candidate's note and leaked it to the media, causing embarrassment. The president signed the guest book, writing, "This was a great honor—peace!"
"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace," Trump said upon landing.
"We must work together to build a future where the nations of the region are at peace, and all of our children can grow and grow up strong and grow up free from terrorism and violence."
He stressed that "we can only get there working together, there is no other way."
Meanwhile, Palestinians leaders have reacted to Trump's visit with mixed feelings ranging from cautious optimism to apathy and anger.
Despite trump vowing to Palestinian Presdient Mahmoud Abbas to do whatever is necessary" to negotiate a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah regards Trump's visit with the caution, especially in light of the indications broadcast by Trump and his team of restarting the peace process after three years of total stagnation.
The distinguished welcome ceremony Trump was treated to upon landing was briefly derailed when MK Oren Hazan grabbed the president's hand and took a selfie with him.
Hazan nudged himself into the line of Israeli dignitaries greeting Trump upon his arrival at the airport in Tel Aviv. After shaking Trump's hand, Hazan said, "I wish I could take a selfie with you." Trump responded "What?" but an undeterred Hazan took out his phone and posed alongside an unamused Trump, while Netanyahu tried to bring the moment to an end by pulling on Hazan's arm.
Trump concluded his brief speech by reaffirming "the unbreakable bond between the United States and the State of Israel," adding "We love Israel, we respect Israel... the people of the United States of America are with you."