(TEL AVIV, Israel) — President Donald Trump opened his first visit to Israel Monday, an early visit by a president to a longtime Middle East ally and one aimed at testing the waters for jumpstarting the region's dormant peace process.
Trump flew in from Saudi Arabia, where he basked in a lavish welcome from the kingdom's royal family, and received a similarly warm welcome in Tel Aviv. In brief remarks during an airport ceremony, the president said he had come "to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the state of Israel" and that his visit with Arab leaders gave him "new hope" for peace in the region.
"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people," Trump said.
Trump received a warm welcome in Tel Aviv after becoming the first U.S. president to include Israel on his maiden overseas trip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump "a true friend" to Israel and sounded hopeful notes about the president's role in the Middle East peace process.
But Trump may face questions from Israeli officials about revelations that he disclosed sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian officials and concerns over the new $110 billion arms deal he announced with the Saudis. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking to reporters on Air Force One, said the U.S. could provide clarifications to Israel about what happened but said, "I don't know that there's anything to apologize for."
Before meetings Monday with Netanyahu, the president and first lady Melania Trump will visit the Western Wall, an important Jewish holy site, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is believed to be where Jesus was crucified and the location of his tomb.
Read More (...)