President Donald J. Trump is breaking new ground with respect to U.S.-Israeli relations.
First and foremost, he became the first sitting American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel. If you recall, former President Barack Obama was photographed visiting this sacred site in summer 2008–but he did so as then-candidate Barack Obama. Moreover, Trump’s administration said in a memo of his joint talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jerusalem is formally located in Israel–a bold move considering Israel antagonists dispute Jerusalem being the eternal, indivisible capital of the Holy Land.
While Trump has expressed an interest in bolstering relations with Israel, his administration hasn’t been entirely free of missteps or errors in their attempt to restore positive relations. Although he campaigned to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump has held off on this move for now so as to not provoke Arabs who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Back in February, Trump also said the construction of new settlements in the West Bank would stifle peace talks. However, Trump likely changed his tune given the speech he delivered yesterday short of endorsing a Palestinian state–which is encouraging news.
Ties between the U.S. and Israel are said to be stronger than ever since Trump assumed office earlier this year. It was quite evident that U.S.-Israeli relations were strained under Trump’s predecessor. However, happier times with our greatest ally in the Middle East seem to be unfolding now as evidenced by the picture below.
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) May 22, 2017
— Financial Times (@FT) May 22, 2017
Photos: President Trump visits Western Wall in Israels capital Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/ZxtCQ8lRZA
— Israel Breaking (@IsraelBreaking) May 22, 2017
BREAKING: Trump Admin Declares Jerusalem Part of Israel in Major Pro-Israel Policy Shift. First Prez To Recognize https://t.co/zTG0ex8q9a
— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) May 22, 2017
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) May 22, 2017
President Trump is currently participating in his first official trip abroad, hitting up both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Up next on his itinerary is a visit to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis, who previously questioned Trump’s Christianity.
Dialogue allows us to plan for a future in common. Through dialogue we build peace, taking care of everyone.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 23, 2017
We shall see what transpires during that meeting.
Nevertheless, U.S.-Israel relations seem to be in a much better spot than before. Let’s hope the State Department and rest of the Trump administration will get Israel policy right rather than kowtow to enemy forces.