Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to strengthen the alliance between the US and Israel on Monday afternoon before taking off to Washington for his first meeting with President Donald Trump since he entered the White House in January.
Before his departure, Netanyahu offered a few words to the press. “I am now leaving for a meeting of the utmost importance in Washington. There, I will meet with US President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and leaders of Congress and the Senate.”
Commenting on the general US-Israel relationship, which was sullied during the Obama administration, Netanyahu maintained that “the alliance was always extremely strong,” adding with palpable optimism, that “it is about the get stronger.”
He stressed that there was a general confluence of outlooks on the region as a whole. “President Trump and I see eye to eye on the threats and the opportunities in the region. We will speak about the two points and about enhancing the strong alliance in a large number of fields.”
The prime minister went on to describe a “thorough conversation” in the cabinet that took place on Sunday “at the end of which I said simply: I will lead and I will direct. That is what I intend to do—to lead and direct the historic alliance for the good of our national interests and for the good of the citizens of Israel.”
Speaking to the ministers during Sunday’s cabinet session, Netanyahu said that when Trump was asked how to advance the peace process with the Palestinian Authority during a phone conversation, Trump said he believes “that it is possible to convince the Palestinians to give up on things because they want peace.”
Netanyahu warned the ministers to be under no illusions: Trump still believes in carving out two states, he said, meaning that Israel had to act with caution, particularly in light of Trump’s personality.
Netanyahu also sought to emphasize that there was no escaping the fact that Iran had to be a top priority of the discussions, even if it came at the expense of talks vis-a-vis construction in Judea and Samaria.
The prime minister was forthright in his words to dispel any beliefs that Trump would march to Israel’s beat.
“Indeed, it is true that it will be more comfortable for Israel but anyone who thinks that there won’t be limits on Israel is mistaken,” he said.
Also commenting on the visit before Netanyahu took off, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz urged that Israel unequivocally reject the notion of a two-state solution.
“Israel needs to say loudly and clearly: no to a Palestinians state, yes to an expanded, complete and united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.”
Katz, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, called on the prime minister to raise the subject of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in accordance with Trump’s campaign pledge.
Speaking at the Jerusalem Conference, Katz added that Netanyahu must seek to gain Trump’s approval “for imposing Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Givat Ze’ev and Beitar Illit to begin with.”
In addition, Katz implored Netanyahu to categorically refuse proposals pertaining to a freeze on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
The position was also echoed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) who spoke immediately after Katz.
“Mr. Prime Minister, we trust you, we support you 100 percent in safeguarding the State of Israel as a Jewish state in the Land of Israel,” Bennett said.