March 12, 2017

Jerusalem and Washington: Together Again


Alex Beigelman ‘18


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been busy recently with a series of trips around the world. His most notable trip, however, has been his trip to the United States. It was the Netanyahu’s first official visit to the U.S. since President Trump’s inauguration.
Netanyahu met with political leaders of all kinds during his stay. He tweeted a picture of himself with new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and held a meeting with top Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s most important meeting was with the new president. Trump has only met with four world leaders thus far, making this first meeting especially important, offering an opportunity to establish a strong Israel-America partnership with the new administration.
Netanyahu was known to have had a difficult relationship with President Obama over the years and many have feared that a bad relationship between the leader of Israel and the U.S. would lead to a weakening of the relationship between the countries. Putting those fears to rest, Netanyahu has so far shown a friendly, healthy relationship with President Trump.
In Netanyahu’s meeting with Trump, the two leaders discussed a variety of topics, mostly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the issues with Iranian nuclear development. They also discussed the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel, the conflict in Syria and the growing alliances between Israel and its Sunni Muslim neighbors against their common enemy, Iran.
The Prime Minister and the President then gave a press conference together showing their healthy relationship. They had disagreements about certain issues as any pair of leaders would, but they were able to move past them for the sake of maintaining the alliance between the two nations.
President Trump historically vowed to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, a decision that might come with some serious ramifications, but he has since backpedaled away from that promise. He has his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, working in Jerusalem, but hasn’t formally set a plan to move the embassy.
Trump has had healthy disagreements with Netanyahu about settlements. During their shared press conference, Trump said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little while.”
Netanyahu disagreed with the notion that settlements were the main roadblock to peace and replied to Trump in a way that showed respect while disagreeing, which exemplifies the good relationship between the two men.
Netanyahu said in an interview with Fox News personality Sean Hannity that he had been friends with Trump since his time as the Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. The two men have fostered a friendship, going back many years, and share mutual respect. Netanyahu has expressed a strong desire to work with the new president and hopes that they can pursue peace together as a united force in the Middle East.
This meeting has helped establish a strong friendship between Trump and Netanyahu, increasing the strength of the alliance between their respective countries. It has brought them together on issues such as nuclear proliferation and radical Islamic terrorism, uniting the U.S. with Israel and similarly Iran-weary countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia.
On the issues they don’t agree on, the Trump administration has been forced to learn the complexities of the reality in the Middle East. The focus has now turned to formulating official, realistic, stances on the various issues faced in the region. A big issue has been the transitioning from campaigning to governing and this recent meeting with Netanyahu has helped the new administration reevaluate its stances and plans and adjust to the reality of the situations.
Netanyahu’s trip, above all else, has reestablished Israel as a top priority for the administration and provided an opportunity for the two nations to rebuild a strong alliance after eight years of disagreements and conflicts.
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