“And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.” Numbers 22:15 (The Israel Bible™)
PM Benjamin Netanyahu
with then-President-elect Donald Trump in New York, Sunday, September 25, 2016. (GPO/Kobi Gideon)
The first official state meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly-inaugurated US President Donald Trump could take place as early as next month, Ynet reported on Sunday.
Government officials say that the meeting may happen in the first week of February. Netanyahu is also expected to meet with Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, whom Trump has said will head peace efforts in the Middle East during his administration.
His pro-Israel stance was a basic tenet of Trump’s campaign platform, and meeting with the Israeli premiere has been a priority for the president since his election in November. When Netanyahu called Trump to congratulate him following his victory, Trump took the opportunity to invite Netanyahu to meet at the “first opportunity.”
The Trump team also reportedly extended an invitation to the January 20 inauguration, giving rise to speculation that Netanyahu would be the first Israeli prime minister ever present at an American inauguration. However, Netanyahu did not attend, though several leaders of Israel’s settler movement did.
Now, both leaders are eager to cement what Israel expects will be a close and fruitful relationship, firmly closing the door on eight years of strained personal relations between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.
The two will likely discuss big issues such as construction in Judea and Samaria, the Iranian nuclear deal, and the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israeli leaders anticipate that Trump’s stances on the issues will align much more closely with Israeli interests than Obama’s policies ever did.