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What’s on the Trump-Netanyahu Agenda?

Jacob Kornbluh

Israel awaits response on key issues from new administration

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

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CITY LIVING The world calls it a settlement, but to its 20,000 residents, the yishuv of Ariel is a thriving city. Will it grow further in the Trump era? (Photos: AFP/Imagebank)

T he Obama years are over, and President Trump insists he repaired the damage done to the US-Israel relationship in one short phone call he placed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The two leaders have forged a personal connection and have much in common, including their mutual distaste for the mainstream media. Nonetheless, the first real test will come when the two leaders meet in Washington, D.C., sometime this month.

At the outset, the issues seem simple. Both Trump and Netanyahu disapprove of the Iranian nuclear deal, prefer good relations with Russia, and are publicly for a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The president and prime minister also appear to be on the same page when it comes to fighting radical Islamic terror.

But there are still two outstanding issues to be discussed, weighty matters that both the Israeli government and Trump’s Jewish supporters hoped would receive immediate attention.

The first is the promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the opening weeks of his presidency, Trump has danced around the issue and it’s not clear whether the hesitation is on his side or Israel’s.

Aaron David Miller: “There just won’t be as much to fight about as there was in the Obama administration”

The second — and perhaps more important — issue awaiting confirmation by the Trump administration is that it adheres to the common-sense understandings reached in the 2004 Bush-Sharon letter that recognized large settlement blocs as part of Israel. Netanyahu will also reportedly seek assurances that the US will prevent the UN from internationalizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro speculated this week that Netanyahu’s tweet praising Trump’s wall is part of a quid pro quo deal. “To me, it looks like Trump is already squeezing Netanyahu hard,” Shapiro wrote on Twitter. (excerpted)

—Jacob Kornbluh is the political reporter for Jewish Insider

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