Trump v Israel
Expectations in Israel are high for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he holds his first post-inauguration meeting with President Trump at the White House on Wednesday. Netanyahu, who had a famously rocky relationship with former President Barack Obama, is expected to seek a public reset of U.S.-Israeli relations, plus commitment to a hard-line stance on Iran while trying to avoid any confrontation on Israeli settlements in Palestinian lands. Trump and Netanyahu will hold a joint press conference after their meeting.
Trump has been focusing on reaching a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and Mideast peace envoy, will take part in Wednesday's meetings along with strategist Stephen Bannon. A White House official said Tuesday night that Trump won't insist on a two-state solution, though it's not clear if he will propose an alternative on Wednesday. "It's something the two sides have to agree to. It's not for us to impose that vision," the official said of the idea of side-by-side Palestinian and Israeli states. "A two-state solution that doesn't bring peace is not our goal."
The Obama administration did not insist on a two-state solution so much as present it as the most viable route, The Washington Post notes, and Netanyahu's right flanks back home are increasingly opposed to Palestinian statehood. Trump reportedly plans to first try to reach a deal between Israel and Arab states, hoping those states can bring the fractured Palestinian territories on board.
Netanyahu's visit also comes amid the fallout of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's forced resignation on Monday night. It isn't clear how that will shape the Trump-Netanyahu meeting. Flynn's resignation "deprives Mr. Netanyahu of his strongest ally inside the White House for raising pressure on Iran," The New York Times says. "Flynn's absence is unlikely to affect the agenda or U.S. positions," The Washington Post counters. "His hawkish voice on Iran reflects Trump's views, and he was not expected to be a main player in any White House push for a peace agreement." Martin Indyk, Obama's special envoy for Mideast peace, sides with the Times: "On the one issue that Bibi wants to talk about, Iran, he's missing his wingman, General Flynn. His wingman has just been shot down."