Published: Wed, May 24, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump's flight to Tel Aviv first between Saudi Arabia and Israel

Trump was in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of his first foreign tour, which also includes stops in Israel, the Vatican, Belgium and Italy over the coming days. And at the end of the trip, as I was getting back on the plane, the security guards from the Saudi side who were helping us over the weekend all wanted to pose for a big photo op and then they gave me two huge bushels of dates as a present, a thank-you for the trip that we had had.

But Trump may face concerns from Israelis over the new $110 billion arms deal he announced during his previous stop in Saudi Arabia as well as questions from Israeli officials about revelations that he disclosed sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian officials.

Arriving from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mr Trump expressed his hope for co-operation among U.S. allies in the Middle East.

"I never mentioned the word or the name Israel", he told reporters.

Commerce Secretary and Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, part of the US delegation on President Donald Trump's eight-day, five-nation overseas trip, told CNBC this morning that after visiting Saudi Arabia he sees signs the Saudis are allowing more opportunities for women and "liberalizing their society". He'll later to lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial, and deliver a speech at the Israeli Museum.

Trump has handed son-in-law Jared Kushner and longtime business lawyer Jason Greenblatt the assignment of charting the course toward a peace process. "We believe Israel is willing".

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B'nai B'rith in a statement issued Sunday evening praised Trump for calling on Arab nations to join in the fight against Islamic terrorism and for "challenging the Arab world to unite in confronting Iran - the largest state sponsor of global terror". The White House-driven effort is a sharp shift from the practice of USA previous administrations that typically gave secretaries of state those reins.

"There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran", he said, at a welcome meeting with President Rueven Rivlin.

The prospect of a new relationship and cooperation between Israel and the Arab world could lead to lasting peace with the Palestinians, Oren hopes.

And on the eve of Trump's visit, an Israeli official said Netanyahu's cabinet has approved confidence building measures with the Palestinians, including allowing building in a West Bank area.

Last year, the Obama administration failed to veto a United Nations resolution that said land Israel captured in the 1967 war is "occupied territory". The area is home to sensitive religious sites, including the Western Wall, the holiest place where Jews can pray. The Trump administration drew the ire of some Israelis this week when officials declined to state that the Western Wall was part of Israel, as has been US policy. And while Netanyahu in the past has expressed support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, he has been vague about this goal since Trump gained power.

After Israel, Trump's marathon maiden foreign trip will take him to the Vatican for an audience with Pope Francis, to Brussels for a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit and to Sicily for a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major industrial nations.

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