During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised Israel a different relationship than they had ever had with the United States, but now reality has set in for both Trump and Israel, and many Israeli leaders aren’t happy. Before Air Force One touching down at Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, news surfaced that Trump had shared Israeli intelligence with the Russians, and had also struck an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that this is none of Israel’s concern. Trump has further offended many Israeli’s by dissing Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu on his Western Wall visit and limiting the time Trump would spend at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum.
Back home in D.C. things are getting complicated as Jared Kushner is thought to be the next “person of interest” in the Trump-Russia investigation. Kushner is joining Donald Trump, Melania, and Kushner’s wife Ivanka on the Middle East trip that has now landed in Israel, but they must be aware that when Kushner returns home, the are some investigators that want to talk to him about his relationship with Russian officials.
Benjamin Netanyahu Had to Urge Israeli Officials to Attend Airport Ceremony
While the Trump visit so early in his presidency was once thought to be a “powerful expression of solidarity,” it is now more complicated and a bit awkward amidst a number of stressful events and news reports. Trump insisted during his campaign that he was the man who could prevail where previous presidents failed regarding achieving Middle East peace, but now that advisers have filled him in on the specifics, he is changing his stance.
However, even though Trump has backtracked behind the scenes, his speech at the airport in Tel Aviv still had an optimistic tone.
“We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity, and peace.”
During his campaign, Trump presented himself as the staunchest ally Israel could imagine, but he has now moved away from that stance, moving closer to the center position of Obama, Bush, and Clinton. Netanyahu was under the impression that Trump was going to continue to support moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which Trump said he planned to “do quickly,” but that promise has been postponed because of Palestinian backlash. Trump had expressed support for the continued building of settlements but is now putting pressure on Netanyahu to delay new projects. The final slight was when Trump declined to invite Netanyahu to join him on a trip to the Western Wall, which Trump now refuses to say is part of Israel.
The Trump-Russia Issue is Creating Conflict On The Trip
Israeli officials are universally upset about the intelligence leak at the hands of Donald Trump when Trump privately hosted the Russian ambassador and friends in the oval office. Trump disclosed to key Russian figures protected information about an Islamic State plot that originally had come from Israel. This disclosure put the Israeli intelligence source at risk.
While Trump seemed to fully embrace his visit to Saudi Arabia, he has abbreviated some of his Israeli cultural visits. Trump canceled his visit to Masada in the desert reportedly due to the amount of walking (there was a question of whether a helicopter could land at the top of the site). Moreover, Trump also asked that a visit to the holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, that was supposed to be a ceremony now be turned into a brief photo op, which offended many Israelis.
Rex Tillerson’s Urging That The Saudi Arms Deal Shouldn’t Concern Israelis
Most recently the $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, orchestrated by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, was the final straw for many of the Israeli officials who had to be forced to attend Trump events. Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who is also joining the Trump team on this Middle Eastern junket says that Israel should not worry about this deal.
“There has been nothing entered into with the arms sales agreements with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia or any of the other countries that do not fully allow us to fulfill our commitments to Israel and the longstanding security arrangements we have with Israel. I’m sure we can answer those questions and address the concerns they have.”
There is also some rumbling among the Israeli Intelligence community about the security breach, but Netanyahu has vowed not to mention the Trump slights publicly during this trip. But Rex Tillerson is coming to Trump’s defense, saying that Trump has nothing to be sorry for.
“I don’t know that there’s anything to apologize for. To the extent the Israelis have any questions or clarification, I’m sure we’re happy to provide that.”
Trump Spoke About Iranian Arms In Israel
Though Trump didn’t mention the arms sale to Saudi Arabia that Jared Kushner organized, he did want to urge an Israeli audience that if he has his way, Iran will never have nuclear weapons. Trump said that after their 2015 deal, Iranians thought they could do what they want, but he specifically told Netanyahu that it won’t happen.
Trump also continue to say that a peace deal can be hashed out between Israelis and Palestinians, but would not clarify how he plans to do this.
RELATED REPORTS BY INQUISITR
Trump wore a Yamulke to the Wailing Wall, which placated many Israelis and Jews around the world.
Do you still think that Trump is on the side of Israel?
[Featured Image by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images]