President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a joint statement welcoming the president to Jerusalem.
Netanyahu spoke of their personal friendship. “I think we understand each other,” he said of Trump. “I have no doubt that, as we work together, you and I, the alliance between our countries will grow ever stronger.”
The Israeli PM praised “the change in American policy on Iran,” in a swipe against former President Barack Obama, with whom Netanyahu shares a mutual and intense dislike. “I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East,” he said.
Trump returned the compliment, speaking of the “incredible generosity” of the Israeli people, and of the beauty of the land. “I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall,” Trump said. “Words fail to capture the experience. It will leave an impression on me forever.”
“Today we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States,” the president continued. “A friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace. We want Israel to have peace.”
Trump mentioned Saudi Arabia’s King Salman by name, as he previously named Netanyahu in his Riyadh speech. He spoke of how other nations, including those present at his meeting in Saudi Arabia, wanted peace and stability. He expressed how King Salmon really wants peace. “I got to know him well, and he really does,” Trump said, meeting Netanyahu’s gaze.
Trump framed the Iranians as the enemy, a threat “causing so much violence and suffering.” Addressing the Palestinians, Trump expressed the hope that progress can be made toward peace. “It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there, eventually,” he said, then adding, “I hope.”
It was a historic moment, one that President Trump appeared eminently presidential, and one that Obama never got to share because of his own intransigence. Trump and Netanyahu brought a message of hope to a region marked by so much war, bloodshed, and death.