JERUSALEM — President Trump began a two-day visit to Israel on Monday with what amounted to a blunt assessment for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: If Israel really wants peace with its Arab neighbors, the cost will be resolving the generations-old standoff with the Palestinians.
For years, Mr. Netanyahu has sought to make common cause with Sunni Arab nations to counter the Shiite-led Iran, while managing the Palestinian dispute as a subordinate issue. But as Mr. Trump arrived in Jerusalem after meetings in Saudi Arabia, the president indicated that he and those Arab states see an agreement with the Palestinians as integral to that new regional alignment.
“On those issues, there is a strong consensus among the nations of the world — including many in the Muslim world,” Mr. Trump said after a meeting with Reuven Rivlin, who holds the largely ceremonial position of president of Israel. “I was deeply encouraged by my conversations with Muslim world leaders in Saudi Arabia, including King Salman, who I spoke to at great length. King Salman feels very strongly and, I can tell you, would love to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians.”
Mr. Trump added that line to the remarks prepared for him, in effect tying the future of the anti-Iran coalition to the Palestinian issue despite Mr. Netanyahu’s longtime efforts to unlink the two.
The president has backtracked on several issues that are key to Israel, including the location of the U.S. Embassy and settlement-building.
By CAMILLA SCHICK and IAN FISHER on Publish DateMay 22, 2017. Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.Watch in Times Video »