Netanyahu may join me at the Western Wall
- Author: Arturo Norris May 20, 2017,
May 20, 2017, 22:21
He will meet with Pope Francis, who has made no secret of his disdain for Trump's harsh rhetoric about immigrants and has reminded the president to remember the poor. "He's already a president viewed skeptically by much of the world".
Days of Israeli outrage later, the White House hasn't changed their mind.
Trump's trip was always going to be dramatic. "But still the U.S.is bringing rocket-proof glass to put in front of the window". Last week, he added new layers of complication by disclosing classified intelligence to a longtime adversary.
Congress recognized Jerusalem as Israeli in 1995, but successive presidents have waived a provision in that law that requires the United States to move the embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Still, Trump hasn't been eager to seize the opportunity.
The tour, which begins on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, will take him to Israel and the West Bank and then to the Vatican.
Each stop comes with high stakes. White House officials planned to project an image of unity with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a deeply popular figure with the president's Republican base, to contrast Trump with his predecessor.
Tabloid Israel Hayom, which places a picture of editor Boaz Bismuth above the fold while relegating Trump to below that all-important line, leads off with an excerpt of an interview with the United States president, in which he indicates a willingness to (maybe) allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accompany him to the Western Wall holy site on Tuesday.
Similarities in their jaundiced looks at the clouds over the upcoming trip and the White House in general go beyond just the use by both of the image of Trump's head on a fidget spinner toy. After all, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama did the same thing every six months, starting in 1998, to postpone the implementation of the Jerusalem Embassy Act on the grounds of "national security interests". That distinction Jerusalem, not Israel reflects the USA position that the city's fate is an issue for Israelis and Palestinians to work out through future peace negotiations.
Trump reportedly disclosed classified information to the Russians regarding an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) plot to mask bombs in laptops and reportedly divulged the name of the city where the plot was being hatched. He recently has shifted to reassure wary allies that he remains committed to the pact.
Trump's behavior demonstrates yet again a fundamental problem with the leader of the free world feeling free to say what he pleases without consulting with experts who no doubt would advise him to keep his mouth shut and his fingers off Twitter before they have had a chance to educate him on classified and sensitive matters. Key parts of the group are unsettled by Trump's unpredictability and his willingness to cheer on nationalist sentiment.
Trump's itinerary is heavy with religious symbolism.
While Israel Hayom has consistently acted as something close to a local propaganda arm for the U.S. president, burying unfriendly news and pretending the visit is approaching swimmingly, the same can not be said of Israel's other major papers.
"He strongly believes that it is the strength of the faith of people in these religions that will stand up and ultimately be victorious over these forces of terrorism", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. "Their first question was: What is going on?"
Trump is coming to Netanyahu's turf, but early indications are that he has no intention of sharing the limelight with his host.
While some Middle East leaders will likely greet Trump warmly, he could receive a far cooler reception in Europe. Trump will meet Netanyahu beforehand for dinner, but will follow that up with the private trips, making the rounds.
"Welcome to the White House overseas", said Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's former press secretary.