Hot on the heels of a meeting with Saudi King Salman Sunday, where the two fearmongered about the "threat" of Iran, U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Israel for the second leg of his first foreign tour, meeting Monday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Air Force One landed at Ben Gurion airport, where Trump was greeted by Netanyahu and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was also in attendance.
In joint statements, Trump and Netanyahu both referred to hopes for a wider peace deal in the region, keeping pace with a decades-long imperial alliance between the two countries that deftly ignores the demands from oppressed peoples living in occupied Palestine.
Netanyahu glorified Trump's fearmongering speech that he delivered in Saudi Arabia, saying he agreed that the need to “drive out terrorists and extremists” was imperative.
The Israeli prime minister also stated that “Israel’s hand is extended in peace to all our neighbors, including the Palestinians. The peace we seek is a genuine one, in which the Jewish state is recognized, security remains in Israel’s hands, and the conflict ends once and for all.”
Trump, in turn, mirrored that reverence, saying that the apartheid state of Israel has “built one of the great civilizations: a strong, resilient, determined nation” that he said was “forged in the commitment that we can never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated.”
He continued, saying, “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people. But we can only get there working together. There is no other way.”
Trump also flew to Jerusalem for his first official engagement with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who welcomed him by saying, "Mr. President, we are happy to see that America is back in the area ... America is back again."
He praised the U.S.' bombing of Syria while marveling at Trump's "priority" of "defeating ISIS."
Trump then traveled to the Old City for private visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall — long claimed by Israel, despite its location in Jerusalem. Palestinians regard Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital.
Trump has continually insisted that he will be able to bring a solution to the so-called Israeli-Palestinian "conflict." On the eve of his arrival, Israeli ministers approved measures aimed at "improving the Palestinian economy." Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike and their supporters demonstrating in solidarity have faced weeks of crackdowns.
But, Trump has sent mixed signals about how he will approach the "peace process." He previously cast uncertainty on a two-state option, which is rejected by the majority of Palestinians, when he met with Netanyahu at the White House in February.
In the wake of his arrival in Israel, Palestinians in the West Bank observed a general strike in solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails. Protesters blocked roads in the West Bank as the hunger strike entered its 36th day.
Following this visit, the U.S. president will head to the Vatican as well as Brussels and Italy for NATO and G-7 meetings.