US President Donald Trump spoke of a “rare opportunity” to bring stability to the region as he landed in Israel on Monday to seek ways to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Trump also hailed the “unbreakable bond” between the United States and Israel as he spoke at a brief ceremony at the airport in Tel Aviv after landing.
“On my first trip overseas as president, I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the state of Israel,” Trump said.
He said later: “We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace. But we can only get there working together. There is no other way.”
Trump will hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day and travel to the occupied West Bank on Tuesday to meet Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Over two days, Trump is to meet separately with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and visit holy sites. On Monday in Jerusalem, he will pray at the Western Wall and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
On his maiden foreign tour since taking office in January, Trump is already showing signs of fatigue from a packed schedule. He is on a nine-day trip through the Middle East and Europe that ends on Saturday after visits to the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily.
During a speech in Riyadh on Sunday, he urged Arab and Islamic leaders to do their share to defeat terrorism and extremism.
On Sunday night in Riyadh after a long day of events, many of them delayed, he skipped a “tweeps” forum for young people that was to be his last activity of the day, sending daughter Ivanka in his place.
Over the weekend, Trump received a warm welcome from Arab leaders, who focused on his desire to crack down on Iran’s influence in the region, a commitment they found wanting in the Republican president’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.
The reception marked a contrast from his difficulties at home where he is struggling to contain a mushrooming scandal after his firing of former FBI Director James Comey nearly two weeks ago.