Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the Trump tower.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)
WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he is looking forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump on many issues in the region.
“I look forward to working with President-elect Trump to further the twin interests of peace and security,” he said.
“I, for one, find great encouragement in the fact that there’s this continuity of friendship.”
Trump fans rally in Jerusalem
Netanyahu was among the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on his upset victory last week against Hillary Clinton.
Trump invited the Israeli leader to visit the White House at the earliest opportunity after he takes the oath of office.
Netanyahu, in a satellite address to the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly in Washington on Tuesday, said he expects US President Barack Obama to continue America’s “longstanding policy” of promoting direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – and not pursue parameters for Middle East peace through international bodies before he leaves office.
“I very much hope that President Obama will continue the policy that he enunciated,” Netanyahu said, referring to comments made by the outgoing president at the beginning of his first term. “The only way you get a workable and enduring peace is to have the parties agree to it. This is what has happened with our peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.
“We’ve had convulsions in the Middle East, and yet these peace treaties hold because they were directly agreed to by the parties,” he added. “The reason we’ll object to any such effort is because it will hard the Palestinian position, and because it will harden the Palestinian position, it will push peace back.”
Netanyahu said he is encouraged by the “quiet diplomacy” that has led to increased relations with Arab states, and hopes to foster those relationships in coordination with Trump.
The Israeli government fears that the Obama administration, in its final days in office, may go along with an international effort led by France at the UN Security Council to institutionalize parameters for a two-state solution. Both major US party candidates opposed this effort through the 2016 presidential campaign, but the White House has not explicitly ruled out such a move.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman fielded a question on the US election at an army base on Tuesday, saying Israel “respects” everyone elected in the US.
“The US is our greatest ally, and we try to maintain transparency and neither surprise nor embarrass them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chemi Peres, son of the late president Shimon Peres, congratulated Trump in his speech to the Jewish Federations General Assembly.
“I would like to wish President- elect Trump the best of luck,” he said. “I am sure he will maintain the unbreakable link between Israel and the US, at the core of which are the unwavering support of Israel’s security and the forever extended hand for peace.”
Peres also thanked Obama and Clinton for their work and close friendship with his father, saying the past eight years were “filled with inspiration and support of Israel. [Obama’s] friendship with my father, the honor bestowed upon Israel when he awarded President Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and his support when my father passed away – show the close bond he shares with Israel and its people.”Herb Keinon and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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