Tuesday, May 2, 2017
5/2/2017: Report: Trump 'definitely' visiting Israel this month
Senior officials confirm President Trump to visit Israel ahead of Jerusalem Day, talks to focus on embassy move.
President Donald Trump is “definitely” coming to Israel later this month, senior officials said Tuesday, confirming reports the US president is scheduled to visit the Jewish state on the eve of Jerusalem Day.
Last Wednesday, a diplomatic source revealed that the Israeli government was in talks with the White House for the president’s first trip to the Jewish state since taking office in January, and his first trip to Israel since a little-reported visit in the 1980s.
A day later, Walla News reported that Trump administration officials were considering a two-day, one-night trip, with the president arriving in Israel on the 22nd and leaving on the 23rd, just hours before the beginning of Jerusalem Day, marking 50 years since the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation.
No official statement out of either Jerusalem or Washington has been made regarding the trip, but on Tuesday, senior officials confirmed to NRG that President Trump was indeed planning to visit Israel on the 22nd and 23rd.
The confirmation comes less than one day after Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas left for Washington for a meeting with President Trump scheduled for Wednesday.
The president may have alluded to this trip a week ago when asked about the possible relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, responding by saying “ask me in a month”.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the possible move was “still being discussed by staff.”
The embassy move will be a major issue of discussion between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, a source who spoke with the Prime Minister told NRG. According to the official, Netanyahu is hoping to secure White House recognition of Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel and the relocation of the embassy without Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
In 1995, the US passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which called for the recognition of Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel and required the relocation of the US Embassy to the Israeli capital.
The law, which had strong bipartisan support and passed by wide margins in both chambers of congress, became law ten days after passage despite President Clinton’s refusal to sign the bill.
Last week, House Oversight National Security Subcommittee Chairman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) said President Trump would probably announce the embassy move during his visit, adding that the timing of the trip was no coincidence.
“What better time could there be to announce the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem when you are over there celebrating with our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem,” DeSantis said.
“I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it is more likely to happen than not, and will send a powerful signal to other countries around the world that America is back and will stand by our allies and will not let folks cower us into not doing the right thing.”