Published: Mon, May 22, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

What to expect from Trump's visit to Israel, Palestinian territories

MARTIN: Now, President Trump said in Saudi Arabia today that he thinks peace between Israelis and Palestinians is possible.

President Donald Trump's flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv may make history as the first direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The visit is part of a carefully constructed theme of Trump's first foreign trip as president. Trump, Netanyahu and Rivlin are expected to make short speeches at the event.

The two officials voiced optimism about US President Donald Trump's efforts to strike a peace deal and stressed on the importance of the US-Islamic summit in Riyadh in this regard.

One point of contention: the fate of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

At the same time, he urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a longstanding concern of Palestinians and much of the world. He also visited the Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah, home to Abbas' West Bank headquarters, and a school at the camp, which sits opposite to the Israeli settlement of Beit El.

The White House map is accurate, and that's the problem from Shaked's perspective, as she was expecting the White House map to recognize all of the occupied territories, every scrap of the West Bank and the Golan Heights, as Israeli territory. What Netanyhau wants least is a renewal of tensions between Jerusalem and Washington, with damage spilling over to United States support on non-Palestinian issues, such as combating the spread of Iranian influence or the anti-Israeli bias in the UN. They also reportedly would not be afforded the opportunity to shake hands with the president or those traveling with him since they will not be standing in the receiving line at the airport.

The last US president to visit Israel was Barack Obama, who came to the country shortly after he started his second term in 2013.

Trump smiled and said "I agree".

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"We are ready to engage with Israel in peace talks..."

Hier, who blessed the president during his January 20 inauguration, responded to Carter's comments: "Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter is the wrong person giving President Trump advice on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

Trump spoke during a brief airport ceremony after he arrived in Israel on his first visit as president.

The US is Israel's most important ally, providing it with more than US$3 billion (S$4.2 billion) in defence aid annually.

He will also meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

In her remarks, Livni stressed her support to the two-state solution to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying that despite reasons to be sceptic and several hard issues, there are reasons for optimism.

"It is something that I think is frankly maybe not as hard as people have thought over the years", Trump said when meeting Abbas in Washington earlier this month.

Any leader would face an enormous challenge in seeking to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together for meaningful talks, and Trump's inexperience and domestic political struggles will only add to it.

He cast uncertainty over years of worldwide efforts to foster a two-state solution when he met Netanyahu at the White House in February. In the eyes of many Israelis, whether or not they agree with his ideals and policies, he is perceived as the American version of Netanyahu: capitalistic, hawkish, and suspicious toward the Muslim world (especially Iran).

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