President Donald Trump, on the second leg of his first foreign trip as commander-in-chief, greeted Israeli leaders in Jerusalem Monday with hopes to lay the groundwork for a peace deal with the Palestinians – saying a “rare opportunity” exists, and the threat posed by Iran is bringing Arab neighbors together toward that goal.
“There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran,” Trump said, speaking alongside Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Trump said earlier “there’s a great feeling for peace throughout the Middle East,” and suggested a potential warming by other countries toward Israel could be one “benefit” to the long-running tensions over Iran.
“It’s brought a lot of folks together,” Trump said.
Trump arrived in Israel after a weekend swing through Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival in the region. The Iranian threat has been a chief theme of the U.S. president’s remarks as he seeks to reassure Middle East allies and bring them together toward common goals.
Trump explicitly said Monday that Saudi King Salman would “love to see peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
“We have a rare opportunity to bring stability and peace in this region, defeat terror and create a future of peace,” Trump said after speeches from Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon arriving. “We can only get there by working together – there is no other way.”
“Israel shares commitment to peace – already made with Egypt and Jordan,” he said. “Peace we seek is durable in which the Jewish state is recognized, security remains in Israel’s hands and conflict ends once and for all.”
On Tuesday, Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. After hosting Abbas at the White House in March, Trump boldly stated that achieving peace is “something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”
“But we need two willing parties,” he continued. “We believe Israel is willing. We believe you’re willing. And if you both are willing, we’re going to make a deal.”
White House aides have tried to play down expectations for significant progress on the peace process during Trump’s stop, casting it as more symbolic than substantive.
The Associated Press contributed this report.