Netanyahu prepares for first meeting with President Trump

PM to leave for Washington on Monday, will address Iran, negotiations with PA - but leave annexation of Maaleh Adumim off the agenda.

David Rosenberg ,

Trump meets with Netanyahu
Trump meets with Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to travel to Washington on Monday for a series of meetings with senior White House officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The Prime Minister is slated to meet with both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Details have emerged since Sunday night’s cabinet meeting on the outline of the message Netanyahu plans to present to the president in their first meeting since Trump’s inauguration in January.

Based on reports regarding the meeting, Netanyahu will emphasize the Iranian nuclear deal and the Iranian regimes attempts to destabilize the Middle East. The Prime Minister has said he will urge President Trump to place the Iranian conundrum at the top of his Middle East agenda.

Regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict, senior political officials told Arutz Sheva Netanyahu will offer to restart negotiations with the Palestinian Authority – so long as they have no preconditions. The Prime Minister will emphasize, however, that since he took office nearly eight years ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused calls for direct negotiations without preconditions, and is unlikely to change his position.

On construction in Jewish communities across Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu has indicated he needs to clarify Trump’s position on the matter. Significant policy changes in Judea and Samaria, such as annexation of major towns or large construction projects outside of the ‘consensus blocs’ will not be raised during the meeting.

Mark Heller, a member of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, says the Prime Minister is unsure of President Trump’s position on Israeli construction in and control of Judea and Samaria, and is hoping to test the waters without raising core issues directly.

"In Washington, Binyamin Netanyahu will test his room to maneuver on settlements," Heller told AFP.

Some coalition partners have pushed Netanyahu to renounce his 2009 endorsement of Palestinian statehood, while others have counselled against such moves.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett took to Facebook Saturday evening to urge the Prime Minister "not to miss an historic opportunity", calling on him to “make it clear to Trump in our name: There will not be a Palestinian state in the heart of our land," he wrote on Twitter. "It will not happen."

But former Israeli Ambassador to the US and Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren (Kulanu) advised Netanyahu to be careful in his initial meeting with the new president.

"For (the past) three weeks Donald Trump has been speaking differently," said Oren. "We must act cautiously."

"Binyamin Netanyahu must present the two-state solution as a vision, and sketch pending possible interim agreements acceptable to the Palestinians," he said.