Donald Trump & Benjamin Netanyahu: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


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Donald Trump sits with Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House on February 15, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Getty)

Donald Trump on Monday will meet with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel.

This comes as part of Donald Trump’s first foreign trip. After spending the weekend in Saudi Arabia, Trump will be visiting Israel and will be greeted by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump and Netanyahu have met several times, but this is the first time they will do so in Israel.

So what has the relationship been like between Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu? Here’s what you need to know.

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Benjamin Netanyahu looks on during a joint press conference on November 21, 2012 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Getty)

In December 2015, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Benjamin Netanyahu subsequently condemned this proposal of Trump’s.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu rejects Donald Trump’s recent remarks about Muslims,” a statement issued by the prime minister’s office read. “The State of Israel respects all religions and strictly guarantees the rights of all its citizens. At the same time, Israel is fighting against militant Islam that targets Muslims, Christians and Jews alike and threatens the entire world.”

Trump that month was scheduled to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu. But following Netanyahu’s criticism of the Muslim ban, Trump canceled the trip altogether.

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“I have decided to postpone my trip to Israel and to schedule my meeting with @Netanyahu at a later date after I become President of the U.S,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Netanyahu had already been criticized for inviting Donald Trump to a meeting at all, with members of the Israeli parliament calling upon Netanyahu to cancel. Trump suggested that he canceled the meeting partially to benefit Netanyahu.

“He said we have a meeting and he looks forward to the meeting and all of that. But I didn’t want to put him under pressure,” Trump said, according to CNN. “I also did it because I’m in the midst of a very powerful campaign that’s going very well, and it was not that easy to do. I would say lots of different reasons, I could have done it, it was semi-scheduled.”

2. Netanyahu Says Trump’s Border Wall is a Great Idea

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Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on November 18, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Getty)

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Netanyahu has defended Trump on at least one issue, though: the proposed wall along the southern border.

When speaking about this wall, Trump frequently makes reference to Israel, saying that we can look to Israel as an example of a country building a border wall and this being successful. He’s referring to the fact that Israel several years ago constructed a fence along its border with Egypt, with the goal being in part to prevent people from illegally crossing into Israel from Africa.

Netanyahu agrees with this comparison, saying that his country is proof that a border wall is a great idea.

“President Trump is right,” Netanyahu said on Twitter. “I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea.”

However, Netanyahu later released a statement saying that he was not trying to comment on the U.S.’ relationship with Mexico in making these comments.

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“The prime minister was addressing Israel’s unique circumstances and the important experience we have and which we are willing to share with other nations,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “There was no attempt to voice an opinion regarding U.S.-Mexico ties.”

3. Trump Met With Netanyahu in February & Said the U.S. Would Not Insist on a Two-State Solution

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Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint news conference at the East Room of the White House February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Getty)

President Donald Trump previously met with Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in February 2017. During a press conference, Trump said that it would not be the United States’ policy to insist on a one-state solution in the Israel-Palestine peace talks.

“I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said when asked about a one-state or a two-state solution. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”

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Trump went on to refer to the peace talks as the biggest deal there is, saying that he looks forward to working on it.

“I think we’re going to make a deal,” Trump said. “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand.”

During this news conference, Netanyahu went out of his way to compliment Trump and say that Trump is not antisemitic.

“There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu said.

4. Trump Wants Netanyahu to ‘Hold Back on Settlements’

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Donald and Melania Trump welcome Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as they arrive at the White House in Washington, DC, February 15, 2017. (Getty)

One area where Presient Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu have disagreed is the issue of settlements in the West Bank; Netanyahu has promised to build there, and Trump has pubicly urged him not to.

“I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit,” Trump told Netanyahu at their joint press conference in February.

Trump also told the Israel Hayom that settlements don’t help the peace process.

“There is so much land left,” Trump said. “And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left. But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options we’ll see. But no, I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace.”

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5. Trump Has Promised to Move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Donald Trump speaks during the Arabic Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (Getty)

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Trump has not yet done so, with an anonymous White House official telling the Times of Israel that a move of the embassy “wouldn’t be immediate” and that “a final decision hadn’t been made.”

Back in March, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu might not want the U.S. embassy to be moved.

“I think in large measure the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process,” Tillerson said on Meet the Press. “And most certainly Israel’s view on whether Israel views it as being helpful to a peace initiative or perhaps a distraction. And so again, I think the president’s being very measured in how he goes about this. And appropriately so.”

Benjamin Netanyahu immediately responded to these comments, saying that he is in favor of the U.S. embassy moving to Jerusalem.

“Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem would not only not harm the peace process, rather the opposite,” Netanyahu said, according to The Washington Post. “It would advance it by amending a historic wrong and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem isn’t the capital of Israel.”