President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to make a renewed effort at peace with the Palestinians and to confront Iran.
“I wanted you to know how much we appreciate the American change in policy on Iran,” Netanyahu said as the two leaders delivered joint statements at the prime minister’s residence, but took no questions from reporters.
“We can hold back Iran’s march in this region and thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition,” Netanyahu added.
Taking a noticeable jab at the Obama administration, the prime minister credited Trump by stating, “your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”
Trump stated that he wanted to work with Netanyahu—to take on the “threat of the Iranian regime—causing so much violence and suffering.”
With Trump standing next to him, Netanyahu called Jerusalem the united and eternal capital of Israel and said Israel protects the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Netanyahu thanked Trump for becoming first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall.
“You noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners, and that is where we see something new and potentially very promising,” Netanyahu said.
“It will not be simple, but for the first time in many years, and the first time in my lifetime, I see a real hope for change,” the prime minister added.
For his part, Trump said he wanted to reaffirm the “unbreakable bond of friendship” between the two nations and told Netanyahu that he was “deeply moved” by his visit to the Western Wall earlier Monday.
“It will leave an impression on me forever,” Trump said.
“We want Israel to have peace,” the president added, saying of the Israeli prime minister, “He’s working very hard at it. It’s not easy—America stands ready to assist in every way we can.”
Trump continued, “We can truly achieve a more peaceful future for this region and for people of all faiths and all beliefs and frankly all over the world. There’s a lot of love out there.”
Before the Trump and Netanyahu joint statements, Trump signed the guest book at the prime minister’s residence and wrote a message. Their wives joined both leaders.
“Welcome to our palace,” said Netanyahu, who showed the Trumps a 150-year-old Bible displayed at the residence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a welcome ceremony for US President Donald Trump upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on May 22, 2017.
Trump arrived in Israel on Monday for the second leg of his nine-day trip abroad, which started in Saudi Arabia and scheduled to end in Italy.
Trump’s flight to Israel was noticeably different from previous Air Force One landings. The scheduled trip from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Tel Aviv, Israel, is reported as the first direct flight between the two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations.
An Israeli Airports Authority spokesperson told The Associated Press that he wasn’t aware of any previous direct flights from Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the flight in remarks on Trump’s arrival.
“Mr. President, you just flew from Riyadh to Tel Aviv,” he said. “I hope that someday, an Israeli prime minister will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh. May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path toward reconciliation and peace.”
Trump responded with a brief statement after Netanyahu’s remarks. He said that he was “very, very honored” to be visiting the country.
“We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity, and peace,” he said. “But we can only get there working together. There is no other way.”
In anticipation of Trump’s trip, Israel announced “goodwill gestures”— According to an Israeli official:
“The Israeli Cabinet has decided to increase the hours at a key border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank and allow Palestinians limited building rights in some areas of the West Bank where Palestinian building is restricted.”
“At the same time, Israel is offering a gesture to Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel will begin a process of legalizing some Jewish settlement outposts that were built without government permission.”
Trump’s two-day visit will also include a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and a visit to the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem on Tuesday.