Trump Travels Abroad
President Trump arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia on Monday, for a 36-hour visit that includes a meeting in the West Bank city of Bethlehem with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Trump will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has scheduled a visit to the Western Wall in East Jerusalem and a 15-minute tour of Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, followed by a speech at the Israel Museum.
The main focus of Trump's visit, however, is a push to restart stalled peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. When he hosted Abbas at the White House, Trump said Mideast peace is "something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years," and in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom published Sunday, Trump said, "I think we have a very, very good chance of making a deal." Aides are trying to tamp down expectations.
Trump's visit is also complicated by officially unconfirmed revelations that Trump shared highly classified intelligence from Israel with Russian diplomats, potentially putting it into the hands of Iran, Russia's ally and Israel's arch-enemy. At a meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu had to order his cabinet ministers to greet Trump at the airport, CNN and Israel's Haaretz report; the officials were reportedly unenthusiastic about traveling to the airport when Trump would have time to shake hands only with Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. Right-wing Israeli politicians are disappointed that Trump has moderated his position on Israeli settlements and the status of Jerusalem, and Palestinians are planning protests to highlight a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israel. After Israel, Trump heads to Rome to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican.