Netanyahu, in close election race, visits with U.S. President Donald Trump

For Trump, Netanyahu's embrace resonates with U.S. evangelists, a core constituency for the Republican leader who is up for re-election in 2020.

By REUTERS
March 24, 2019 14:04
2 minute read.
Netanyahu, in close election race, visits with U.S. President Donald Trump

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking over the phone with U.S. President Donald Trump, after the latter called for US recognition of Israeli soverignty over the Golan Heights, March 21, 2019. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later



JERUSALEM - With Israel's election just two weeks away, Benjamin Netanyahu will get to showcase his close ties with Donald Trump in a US visit just days after the president backed Israel's hold over the Golan Heights.

The prime minister's White House meeting with Trump on Monday could be overshadowed in the United States by the expected release of a confidential report into a probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.



But Netanyahu, facing possible indictment in three corruption cases and denying any wrongdoing, will play to a domestic audience in highlighting what he hails as the strongest bond ever between an Israeli leader and an American president.



Before returning on Thursday from the long-planned trip to the home stretch of a close race, Netanyahu can expect a warm reception from Trump, who along with the First Lady, will also host a dinner for Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.



Trump helped set the scene for his ally on Thursday, announcing the time had come to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, strategic territory that Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.



The president's move was widely seen in Israel - where Trump is a popular figure - as an attempt to provide an election boost to the right-wing Netanyahu, who had pressed for yet another departure from long-standing US policy in one of the world's most volatile regions.



Trump had already fulfilled two major items on Netanyahu's wish list, recognizing contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and moving the American embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv last May.



Those steps angered Palestinians, who want east Jerusalem, also captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. It also set them firmly against a peace plan Washington says it will present after the Israeli ballot.



"We have never had such a bond between the prime minister of Israel and an American president," Netanyahu, who has featured Trump on his campaign billboards, told reporters upon his departure from Tel Aviv.



For Trump, Netanyahu's embrace resonates with US evangelists, a core constituency for the Republican leader who is up for re-election in 2020.



CLOSE RACE



Before arriving in Washington on Sunday, Netanyahu said he would speak to Trump "about his historic declaration" on the Golan and "continued pressure on Iran" following the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran that had relaxed sanctions on Israel's arch-foe.



Netanyahu will also address the pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC, at its annual convention in Washington, as will his main challenger in the election, former military chief Benny Gantz who heads a centrist party.



The prime minister said he will meet leaders of Congress during the visit. Netanyahu's relations with Democrats have been strained by his unflinching support for Trump, friction with the Democratic party's progressive wing and his thorny relationship with Barack Obama.



Opinions polls show Netanyahu running neck and neck with Gantz. The political newcomer has called for clean governance, building on the attorney-general's announcement in February that he intends to indict Netanyahu on bribery and fraud charges, pending a hearing after the April 9 vote.



"(Trump's statement about the Golan) will really help Netanyahu," said Billha Ketter, 67, an event planner, speaking to Reuters in Rosh Pina, which abuts the Golan Heights. She accused the president of intervening in Israel's election.



Opinion polls gauging whether Trump's move is having an effect are expected later in the week.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Tzachi Halevy and Lior Raz star in Fauda
April 21, 2019
Want to be in Fauda? Take your shot

By HAGAY HACOHEN