Trump, Netanyahu all smiles in joint remarks

Trump, Netanyahu all smiles in joint remarks
© Courtesy WhiteHouse.gov

President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put their chummy relationship on public display Monday during joint remarks from Jerusalem. 

Netanyahu, who had a frosty relationship with former President Obama, grinned throughout the press conference while swiping at Trump’s predecessor. 
 
“We understand each other and so much of the things we wish to accomplish for both of our countries,” Netanyahu said. 
 
He thanked Trump for his “deep commitment to Israel’s future” and, taking a shot at Obama, said he appreciated “the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”
 
He said that he and Trump are so at ease they could “quote each other,” and that they passed the day discussing their shared visions on everything from deregulation to economics.
 
Trump repeated his vow to bring peace to the Middle East. 
 
“I believe a new level of partnership is possible and will happen and will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the U.S., and greater prosperity to the world,” Trump said. 

“This includes a renewed effort at peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and I thank the prime minister for his commitment to he peace process. He’s working very hard at it — it’s not easy. I’ve heard its one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling we’ll get there eventually, I hope.”
 
Trump earlier in the day was asked whether he transmitted sensitive classified information given to the United States by Israel during a meeting with Russian officials at the White House.
 
The president said he never mentioned the word “Israel” to the two officials. 
 
Reports have indicated that Israel was the source of the information. No one has accused Trump of revealing the source directly to Russia, though there were fears that Moscow could have figured it out from the information Trump provided.

Netanyahu quickly reiterated the Israeli position that the intelligence relationship between the two countries is strong, although some reports have suggested that Israeli officials are privately furious.

But at the joint press conference, Trump and Netanyahu were all smiles, repeatedly pointing out the historic nature of Trump’s trip.

Earlier in the day, Trump became the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall, a holy site where Jews are allowed to pray. Netanyahu and wife Sarah Netanyahu then gave Trump and wife Melania Trump a private tour of their home and an ancient Bible.

Netanyahu said that under Trump’s leadership, he sees the potential for peace and new alliances.

“I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region because you’ve noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners,” Netanyahu said. “That’s where we see something new and very promising. It won’t be simple, but for the first time in many years and first in my lifetime, I see a real hope for change.”

A day earlier, Trump visited with King Salmon of Saudi Arabia and became the first president to make a direct flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv, breaking a symbolic barrier between two countries that do not have a diplomatic relations.

“The Arab leaders you met yesterday could help change the atmosphere and set the conditions for peace,” Netanyahu said. “These are great signs on your historic visit that I think has echoed down the ages.”

Netanyahu put Iran at the forefront, praising Trump’s aggressive posture toward the country and his pledge to renegotiate the nuclear deal reached under Obama. 

“Together we could roll back Iran’s march of aggression and terror and thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition to become a nuclear weapon state,” Netanyahu said.

Trump, meanwhile, focused heavily on “the menace of extremism that has spread to too many parts of the Muslim world.”

“I’m encouraged that [Saudi Arabia] pledged cooperation to confront terror and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard,” Trump said. “America welcomes the action and support of any nation willing to do the hard but vital work in eradicating the violent ideologies that cause so much needless bloodshed and killing here and all over the world.”

- This story was updated at 2:39 p.m.