Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, (L) greet US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport, May 22, 2017.
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
US President Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to Israel, and vowed to make an effort to solve the Middle East conflict, upon arriving Monday at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Trump was welcomed by President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and nearly every cabinet minister.
“During my travels, I have found new reasons for hope,” Trump said. “There is a rare opportunity to bring security and peace to the region, but we can only get there by working together.”
Netanyahu praised Trump for being the first US president to visit Israel on his first trip abroad and extended his hand to Trump’s peacemaking effort.
“Thank you for this powerful expression of your friendship with Israel,” Netanyahu said.
“We seek a durable peace in which the Jewish state is recognized, security remains in Israel’s hands and the conflict ends once and for all.”
Rivlin said that the world, the Middle East and Israel need a strong United States and the US needs a strong Israel. He called Jerusalem the beating heart of Israel.
Following the ceremony, Trump shook hands with the ministers who had waited reluctantly for his arrival under Netanyahu’s orders.
“To bring us here for four hours to be a backdrop when we could be working is ugly,” Culture Minister Miri Regev said ahead of the event. “It doesn’t show respect for the government of Israel or president Trump.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett used his brief moment with Trump to tell him he expects him to be the first US president who recognizes a united Jerusalem.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who will not be meeting with Trump on this trip, told him he offered Netanyahu a parliamentary safety net to make peace.