Sunday, 22 January 2017

[US]Trump invites Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu for February White House visit


Newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington in February during a phone call on Sunday (22 January). In their first conversation since Trump became president, Netanyahu told reporters he planned to discuss the "Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat". The Israeli Prime Minister's office said the call was "very warm". A statement reported by the Times of Israel read: "The prime minister expressed his desire to work closely with President Trump to forge a common vision to advance peace and security in the region, with no daylight between the United States and Israel." Trump told reporters in Washington that the call had been "very nice". A date for the Israeli Prime Minister's visit is expected to be announced in the coming days. The new White House administration is understood to be starting plans to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Republican senators had proposed a bill for the move in early January. The shift would be provocative, with both Israelis and Palestinians citing religious and political claims on the historic city. According to the Guardian, Congress passed a law in 1995 that said Jerusalem is the capital of Israel – though presidents have used their powers to stop such a move of the embassy from taking place. Hours before Netanyahu was due to call Trump on Sunday, Israel approved hundreds of new settlement homes in occupied east Jerusalem. The Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Meir Turgeman, told AFP that Trump's inauguration means that Israel can go ahead with settlement plans: "The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump's arrival as president ... Now we can finally build." Palestinian authorities said that the move to build more Israeli settlements is a violation of a recent UN resolution that declared them illegal. The Obama administration broke with past convention and did not veto the resolution. President Trump had called for the US to use its Security Council veto.

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