Melania slaps away President Trump's hand during Israel trip

Top News Trump Meets With Arab Leaders in Saudi ArabiaAP
Top News Trump Meets With Arab Leaders in Saudi ArabiaAP

24 May, 2017

The trip includes visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican in Italy and Belgium.

It is a stark symbol for Palestinians of Israel's 50-year occupation of the West Bank, and in Bethlehem the wall has been covered with graffiti and street art.

In remarks earlier in the day with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, Trump said he sensed "such a different feeling toward Israel" from Arab countries that are still not at peace with the Jewish State.

"It must cease immediately", he said, referring to Iran's alleged involvement in arming and training militias.

Israelis celebrate the "reunification" of Jerusalem in 1967 as a national holiday.

"It was a awful, bad thing for the United States to enter that deal and, believe me, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, that I can tell you", Trump said to Netanyahu. "We understand each other", Netanyahu said, thanking Trump for "the change in American policy on Iran" and the "reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East".

Security was extremely tight for the Israeli leg of the visit, with police deploying some 10,000 officers.

Security was tight for Trump's journey to Bethlehem, a 20-minute drive from Jerusalem but located across Israel's separation wall. He became the first sitting USA president to visit the site in the east of the disputed city.

Mr Trump, wearing a black skullcap, was photographed pushing a prayer into the wall, as is traditional.

He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the hugely symbolic visit.

The worldwide community, including the United States, does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area, or Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its "indivisible and eternal" capital.

Successive US administrations have said the status of the disputed city should be resolved in a final status peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli settlement activity has pushed further and further into Palestinian territory in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank, as many right-wing conservative Israelis consider the whole of the West Bank to belong to Israel.

More than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements, which are considered illegal under global law, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Today, we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States - a friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace.

On Monday, President Trump met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Tillerson said that arranging a three-way visit among Trump, Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who Trump will meet on Tuesday morning, would be too ambitious for such a short trip.

Donald Trump was forced into taking an awkward selfie with one of Israel's most controversial politicians as he touched down in Tel Aviv.

He has spoken of his self-described deal-making prowess in vowing "we will get it done".

When he met Abbas earlier this month in Washington, he stopped shortly of explicitly recommitting his administration to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, a long-standing foundation of U.S. policy.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

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During my travels, I have seen many hopeful signs that lead me to believe that we can truly achieve a more peaceful future for this region and for people of all faiths and all beliefs and, frankly, all over the world.

White House aides have moved to downplay expectations of significant progress on the peace process during the two-day visit.

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