The Iran nuclear deal brokered by former Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration is the top priority on the list for today’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – an interaction that the Jewish State hopes will be the first of many attempts to strengthen the countries’ strained relationship.
While on route to the United States from Tel Aviv, Netanyahu conveyed that he had high hopes for the meeting.
"The alliance between Israel and America has always been extremely strong – it's about to get even stronger,” the Israeli leader expressed, according to CBN News. "President Trump and I see eye-to-eye on the dangers emanating from the region, but also on the opportunities."
"I'm not surprised by the prime minister's exuberance, especially after eight years of being beaten up by a Muslim-friendly administration ... the Obama administration. So it's a new day in relations between Israel and America.
"God blesses those who bless Israel [Genesis 12:3] – and America will get a blessing for all of this. We have just spent eight years cursing God's land and people, and we're just so thrilled that Donald Trump has the vision to be a blessing to Israel. It's such an improvement over the last eight nightmare years."
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First time’s a charm …
For the first time since Trump was sworn in, the world leaders will meet face-to-face – during private and bilateral meetings and a press conference – yet they have discussed foreign relations long-distance numerous times since the November election.
The union of the two is expected to be a huge contrast from the [lack of] reception Netanyahu received when he visited Washington, D.C., two years ago to discuss the then-proposed Iran nuclear deal – when former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Kerry snubbed the prime minister and would not meet with him.
“Relations between Netanyahu and former President Obama were tense during the last eight years, and that had a major impact on Israel-U.S. relations,” CBN News reported. “Now with President Trump, Israel is expecting a restoration of the relationship and a much warmer welcome at the White House.”
Top Israeli official, Michael Oren, who serves in the Prime Minister’s Office as the Israeli deputy minister for Public Diplomacy, is anxious to begin a new era of U.S.-Israeli relations following perhaps the most damaging eight years between the two nations in recent history.
"The Obama administration, back in 2009, changed some of the fundamental pillars of U.S.-Israel relationship," Oren explained to CBN News.
He elaborated on two major disconnects.
"One was no daylight … [which] meant simply if we were going to have disagreements with one another, the United States and Israel – we are sovereign countries; we will have disagreements – that the two countries would do their utmost to keep those disagreements discreet behind closed doors," Oren continued. "The other major pillar that was discarded by Obama was the pillar of no surprises."
With Trump now in office, Oren is optimistic that the first four years of his new administration will be much better than the first four years of Obama’s White House reign – when he served as Israel’s ambassador to the U.S.
"Now, the hope will be that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Trump administration will restore these pillars, and they may have disagreements, but they'll be kept behind closed doors," Oren expressed.
The former diplomat stressed the importance of discussions taking place centering on the Obama administration’s Iranian nuclear deal of 2015 – the agreement Netanyahu traveled all the way to the U.S. two years ago in order to urge America to throw it into the scrap heap.
"Iran is the world's greatest sponsor of terrorism,” Oren warned. “It is complicit in the murder of half a million Syrians. The Iranian regime openly declares its intention of destroying the State of Israel – a genocidal policy. There's no connection between any of that behavior and the nuclear deal."
He went on to warn that when the deal comes to a close in approximately one decade, Iran will be freed up to produce a nuclear arsenal to wreak terror on the world.
"When the nuclear deal expires and Iran will be able to produce not one nuclear weapon, but 200 nuclear weapons in a very short period of time with complete legitimacy," Oren pointed out. "What is the United States going to do to protect Israel, the region and the world from an Iranian regime that has 200 nuclear weapons?"
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Other topics of discussion between Trump and Netanyahu will be the locations of America’s embassy in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Even though Trump was anxious about moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in prior weeks, he has been a bit more tentative about the idea in recent days.
"It seems less likely now, but I certainly still hope [the move will take place], and I think that there are many steps you could make leading up to that final gesture," Oren shared. “If the United States even recognizes that Israel considers Jerusalem its capital, that would be a ‘step forward.’"
Another issue stoking the conversation between the American and Israeli leaders will be the controversial Jewish settlements that were condemned by the United Nations Security Council on Christmas Eve in the form of its anti-Israel resolution that Obama refused to veto.
“And the issue of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is even more complicated,” CBN News’ Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl reported from the Christian media outlet’s Jerusalem bureau. “Oren … [would] like to see the president symbolically rescind the recent U.N. resolution that deemed all of Judea and Samaria – including the old city of Jerusalem and the Western Wall – as occupied Palestinian territory.”
Oren would like to see Trump address the issue from a totally different perspective than the U.N., Palestinians and their Arab allies … or the Obama administration.
"President Trump could say we do not view these territories as occupied,” Oren noted. “We do not view them as Palestinian – we view them as disputed territories,"
In addition to meeting with Trump, Netanyahu will pay a visit to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and he is scheduled to have interactions with both Republican and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill, as well.
Conservatives and Israelis alike are hoping that Trump will make good on his campaign and post-election promises to champion Israel as America’s greatest ally with his pen – and not just his words.