Trump arrives in Israel as foreign tour continues

Yesterday, President Trump urged the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries to work together to combat terrorism

Trump arrives in Israel as foreign tour continues

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and first lady Melania Trump wave as they board Air Force One for Israel, 22-05-2017. Image: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images

US President Donald Trump has arrived in Tel Aviv as he continues his first foreign tour since coming to office.

Speaking on his arrival at the city’s airport, President Trump said his visit aimed to "reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the US and the state of Israel."

He was greeted on the tarmac by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and both men delivered speeches calling for a wider peace deal in the region - although neither provided any detail as to how this could be achieved. 

"Now we must work together to build a future where the nations of the region are at peace and all of our children can grow, and grow up strong, and grow up free from terrorism and violence," said President Trump.

"We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability to this region, and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity and peace.

"We can only get there working together, there is no other way."

This afternoon he visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, becoming the first sitting US president to do so.

Picture by: RONEN ZVULUN/AP/Press Association Images

Arab Islamic American Summit

Yesterday the US president addressed the leaders of 50 Muslim-majority countries in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh - urging them to drive militants out.

Pressing the need to confront radical ideology and promote a peaceful vision of Islam to the world, the president said: "This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”

He said America is seeking a coalition of nations in the Middle East aimed at stamping out terrorism – with a new counter-terrorism centre to be set up in Riyadh to target the terrorist financing.

Jerusalem

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk during welcome ceremony in Tel Aviv, 22-05-2017. Image:  Oded Balilty/AP/Press Association Images

President Trump will be meeting both Israeli and Palestinian leaders on his two-day visit to the region – with a huge security operation in place.

He has vowed to do whatever is necessary to broker peace in the region – but has failed to provide any details on how he might do so.

When he met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington earlier this month, he stopped short of committing himself to a two-state solution to the conflict - which has long formed the basis of US policy in the region. 

The president also appears to have delayed his plan to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

President Abbas has warned the Trump administration that a move to Jerusalem would kill off the peace process and strip the US of its role as honest broker.

Israel considers the whole of the city as its "eternal, undivided capital" - but East Jerusalem is considered illegally occupied under international law.

Palestinians view the Eastern part of the city as their own capital.

A senior Trump administration official told Reuters last week that the president remained committed to his campaign pledge to ultimately relocate the embassy - but did not plan to announce such a move while on his trip.

Arms deal

President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia began with the announcement of the “largest single arms deal in American history” between the two countries.

The deal believed to be worth almost $110bn (€98.15bn) has been sharply criticised by human rights organisations who believe the weapons will be used in war-torn Yemen – further contributing to the humanitarian crisis in the region.

The White House said the deal will help support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region “in the face of Iranian threats” – while in his speech on Sunday President Trump said, "For decades, Iran has fuelled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror."

The accusation has brought scorn from Tehran, with the country’s foreign minister Javad Zarif accusing the US of “milking” Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars and mocking the decision to visit “that bastion of democracy and moderation.”

President Trump's nine-day trip through the Middle East and Europe will end on Saturday - after visits to the Vatican, Brussels and Sicily.