Trump visits Israel amid tight security

U.S President Donald Trump (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint press briefing.

U.S President Donald Trump is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories, as he continues his Middle East trip.

He flies in from Saudi Arabia, a key U.S ally, where he gave a speech to Arab and Muslim leaders at a summit.

Mr. Trump will hold talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders during the course of his two-day stop.

The president has called an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement “the ultimate deal”, but has been vague about what form it should take.

He has said he prefers to leave it to both sides to decide between them in direct talks.

At a summit in Riyadh on Sunday, Mr. Trump called on Arab and Muslim leaders to take the lead in combating Islamist militants, urging them to “drive them out of this earth”.

He singled out Iran, saying it had “fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” in the region for decades.

Mr. Trump also stated again that he believed peace between Israelis and Palestinians was possible.

The US president has been widely seen as considerably more supportive of Israel than his predecessor, Barack Obama. He has taken a softer position on the contentious issue of Israeli settlements, suggesting that their expansion rather than their existence might hamper the search for peace.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, land Palestinians claim for a future state. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

A huge security operation is under way for Mr. Trump’s visit, during which he will hold separate meetings with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem the following day.

 

Zainab Sa’id