The much anticipated meeting between President Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu did not provide significant insight into the new administration's policies vis-a-vis Israel and the middle east. While Trump expressed optimism in a "great peace deal", he urged his Israeli colleague to "hold back on the settlements a little bit", and while reiterating his support for a move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, he was non-committal: "we'll see what happens."
Trump called on the Israeli Prime Minister to make compromises in order to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians, including holding off on the construction of new settlements. “The United States will encourage a peace and really a great peace deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, but they have to negotiate it themselves, Trump said. “Both sides will have to make compromises.”
Asked whether he preferred a one-state or a two-state solution, Trump said, “I’m happy with the one they like the best,” referring to Israelis and the Palestinians. Israel had two prerequisites for any peace settlement, Netanyahu said. “First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state, they must stop calling for Israel’s destruction… Second, Israel must retain security control over all of the area west of the Jordan River.”
Unless those conditions are met, Palestine will become “another failed state, another Islamist dictatorship that will not work for peace, but work to destroy us,” Netanyahu said.
Tump said “I want the Israeli people to know that the US stands with Israel in the struggle against terrorism" and added “Israel has no better ally than the US,” Netanyahu said, “and the US has no better ally than Israel.” The Israeli PM praised Trump’s commitment to resist “slander and boycotts” of his country in international bodies. The Prime Minister said that both Israel and the US are under attack “by one malevolent force – radical Islamic terrorism."
When asked about the peace process with the Palestinians, Trump told Netanyahu “I’d like to see you hold off on settlements for a little bit."
Predicably, Trump dodged the question about the implications the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn might have for reviewing the Iran nuclear deal, calling Flynn a “wonderful man… treated very unfairly by the media.”
Asked what compromises the two sides might have to make, Trump said the Israelis “will have to show some flexibility” and signal they want to make a deal, while “Palestinians have to give up some of the hate they’ve been taught from a very young age.”
Iranian ballistic missiles are inscribed with “Israel must be destroyed” in Hebrew, Netanyahu said, adding he welcomed the Trump administration’s determination to make Iran pay for “fomenting terrorism” in the Middle East. He accused Iran of wanting to have a nuclear arsenal, “a hundred bombs,” and intercontinental missiles that could reach the US.
Trump also said he will do whatever he can "to prevent Iran from ever — and I mean ever — developing nuclear weapons."
Asked about the reported uptick in anti-Semitism and xenophobia following his election, Trump said he would do everything in his power to unify the country, and that the next 3-4 or 8 years would see “a lot of love.”
“There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump,” Netanyahu said, concluding the press conference.
Some in the media pointed out that Trump only took questions from "friendly" outlets, like Townhall and the Christian Broadcasting Network while avoided reporters like CNN's Jim Acosta who shouted questions about his campaign's contact with Russia as he left the room.