March 18, 2018

Israelis on edge before Trump visit

20 May 2017, 01:04 | Taylor George

Trump will be visiting Israel on May 22 to 23, just after his stop in Saudi Arabia and his trip to the Vatican.

The official said the administration considers its discussions with the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority to be promising, with the Palestinians, in particular, agreeing to talk without preconditions. While Israelis call Jerusalem their "indivisible capital", Palestinians want the capital of any future state in the east of the city.

One possible factor: the absence of a firm decision as to whether he will move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as promised.

Trump said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in March 2016 that he'd move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, "the eternal capital of the Jewish people".

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the worldwide community. Trump is still planning to visit the Western Wall, and will be accompanied by the on-site rabbi, not Netanyahu.

"There's no planned announcement for the embassy on the trip", the White House official said.

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Yet in an interview with Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu paper, Trump said his plans "could still change" and suggested he might ask Netanyahu to join him, a last-minute move that would please Netanyahu but anger the Palestinians.

Trump has boasted that with his negotiating skills he can bring Israelis and Palestinians together to resolve one of the world's most intractable conflicts and do "the ultimate deal".

Top officials at the State Department, Department of Defense and the US intelligence community are urging the White House not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, warning that such a decision would be harmful to the peace process and carry broader regional risks, a senior administration official and several U.S. officials told CNN.

On May 16, a White House official told Reuters that the controversial West Bank comments were not authorized by the usa government, and that they do not reflect both the position of the us and of Trump.

The decision by President Trump to share sensitive intelligence with the Russians that was provided by Israel has created another flap for the administration.

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