Trump may visit Israel for embassy move

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara leave Israel for Davos. Credit Amos Ben-Gershom  GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara leave Israel for Davos. Credit Amos Ben-Gershom GPO

Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will discuss the possibility of US President Donald Trump attending the opening of the controversial new American embassy in Jerusalem scheduled for May this year in his meeting with Trump on Monday.

"Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people through the ages", Netanyahu told Trump at a meeting in the White House, comparing him to past gentile leaders-from Cyrus the Great to President Harry Truman-who have had a major impact on the Jewish people.

Regarding the historic USA decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017, Netanyahu told his American host that "This will be remembered by our people".

But any accord will be colored by recent actions taken by Trump to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and begin moving the United States embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu is pushing Trump to end the Iranian nuclear agreement in which the USA and allies ease sanctions on Tehran as it gives up the means to make nuclear weapons.

US officials have said the cases are not expected to affect Netanyahu's talks, which include meetings with members of Congress. Amid reports of deepening White House chaos, Trump is facing an intensifying investigation over his election campaign's alleged collusion with Russian Federation. The opening of the USA embassy is planned for May.

Further complicating the situation, Trump's point man, Jared Kushner, has lost his top secret security clearance.

Ahead of their talks, U.S. and Israeli officials said Iran would be the main subject of discussion between the two leaders.

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The visit comes as Trump's efforts to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians appears stalled.

Trump said he believed the Palestinians are "wanting to come back to the table very badly" - but did not expand on that claim.

Netanyahu asserted in the Oval Office the agreement had "emboldened" and "enriched" Tehran.

Netanyahu has also cautioned that Israel could act against Iran itself after an Iranian drone flew into Israel last month and an Israeli warplane was shot down while bombing air defences in Syria. "It is practicing aggression everywhere, including on our own borders", Netanyahu said.

But even with an embrace from Trump, and an expected warm welcome at the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC's annual conference on Tuesday, Netanyahu will have a hard time escaping the growing scandals back home.

On Friday, Israeli police questioned Netanyahu and his wife Sara for the first time in the investigation involving the telecom company Bezeq. His wife, Sara, who was simultaneously questioned at a different location, is also a suspect in one of the investigations.

In two other cases in which police have already recommended that Netanyahu be charged, the final decision about whether to prosecute rests with the Israeli attorney general.

Trump has said he will end the agreement if Congress doesn't somehow "fix" it, but he has not yet taken that step.

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