Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the Trump tower.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump held their first conversation Sunday evening which was characterized by Trump as “very nice.”
Trump invited Netanyahu to come to Washington and meet him in February. According to the Prime Minister's Office, the exact date of the meeting will be determined in the coming days.
The conversation lasted less than 30-minutes.
The two leaders discussed the Iran nuclear agreement, the process with the Palestinians and other subjects.
Earlier in the day, at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that there were many issues for him to discuss with the new president, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, and the Iranian threat.
“I want to make clear that, as opposed to some reports that I read, stopping the Iranian threat – first and foremost, stopping the threat forgotten by the signing of the bad agreement with Iran -- continues to be the supreme objective of the state of Israel,” he said.
Another topic that was expected to have been discussed between the two leaders was moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Just prior to the conversation, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration has begun deliberations over whether to move the embassy.
Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America.
"We are the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject," Spicer said in a statement.
But Trump, according to pool reporters covering him on Sunday, declined to comment when asked about his plans to move the embassy.
While some took the statement to mean that the move was not imminent, and that the Administration was just at the very beginning stages of deliberations, others – such as Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat –- saw the very announcement as “historic.”
“I congratulate President Trump on the White House's historic announcement that discussions have begun on moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said in a statement.
“Trump is showing that he is a true friend of the State of Israel who fulfills his promises,” he said. “The announcement this evening sends a clear message to the entire world that the US recognizes Israel as the united capital of the State of Israel.”
Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin also congratulated the Trump administration for “beginning to implement his campaign promise” on moving the embassy.
“United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel according to Israeli law, and Congress recognized this in special legislation,” he said. “The time has come to implement this in practice and move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
One adviser to US President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, has said it is a top priority for the new administration, which took office just three days ago.
Netanyahu, at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, said he greatly appreciated Trump's “deep friendship” for Israel, as well as his “declared willingness to fight against radical Islamic terror with full force.”
Trump, in his inaugural address on Friday, starkly broke with the former administration's aversion to use the term radical Islamic terror. “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones – and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth,” he said.
The Prime Minister's Office characterized the conversation as “very warm,” and said that Netanyahu expressed his desire to work together with Trump to promote “peace and security” in the region in a way in which “there will be no daylight between the United States and Israel.”
Trump invited Netanyahu to come to Washington in February, and a final date is to be determined in the coming days.