President Trump Touches Down In Israel, Says 'Rare Opportunity' For Peace

President Donald Trump gives a speech as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nehama, first lady Melania Trump and the prime minister's wife Sara Netanyahu (left) listen during a welcome ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump feels now is a "moment in time" when a breakthrough is possible.

President Donald Trump opened his first visit to Israel Monday, a two-day stop aimed at testing the waters for jumpstarting the dormant Middle East peace process.

"I think the president has indicated he's willing to put his own personal efforts into this, if the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership are ready to be serious about engaging as well", he said.

Trump is also taking in Saudi Arabia, the Vatican and Brussels on his tour.

A screen previewing upcoming statements by President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted the location as "Jerusalem, Israel".

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 USA policy.

After landing in Tel Aviv, Trump will head to Jerusalem for a series of meetings, speeches and symbolic visits. The official briefed on Sunday's meeting said the package includes building permits for Palestinians in Area C that has largely been off limits to Palestinian development until now.

Afterwards, he is expected to become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray and located in east Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia doesn't recognize Israel and the two states don't have diplomatic relations. It comes a week after the USA alliance with Israel was put to the test amid reports that Trump divulged highly classified intelligence obtained by the Israelis during his meeting with the Russian foreign minister.

Trump will have visited significant homes of three major religions by his trip's end, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, a point that his senior aides say is important in bolstering his argument that the Islamist militancy is a battle between "good and evil". The Trump administration rejected a request from the Palestinians to push for an Israeli settlement freeze, but promised to sort out the issue during peace negotiations, according to the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the private meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity. Any potential move of the embassy to Jerusalem would likely be viewed as provocative to leaders of the region's Arab nations and to Palestinians, who claim that city as the capital of a future state. The demonstrations are meant to draw attention to a month-long hunger strike by hundreds of prisoners being held by Israel and to protest what many Palestinians say is unfair US support for Israel.

"Thank you and shalom", Trump said.

  • Zachary Reyes