Trump says concerns about Iran driving Israel, Arab states closer

President Trump kicked off his two-day trip to Israel on Monday with a historic visit to the Western Wall, and expressed optimism that a "new level of partnership" among the U.S., the Jewish State and the Arab world could foster peace in the region.

Earlier Tuesday, his motorcade crossed through the barrier surrounding biblical Bethlehem for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where he pressed for progress on the dormant peace process.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making a joint statement in Jerusalem, Monday, May 22, 2017.

The Palestinian president greeted Abbas outside the presidential palace and the two men walked along a red carpet onto its grounds.

Trump's visit is part of his first trip overseas as president and follows an initial stop in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism while also criticising Iran.

The leaders are expected to discuss resuming long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett reports from Jerusalem.

The source said that the presence of the protest tent may have been a consideration that led to the restriction of Trump's visit in Bethlehem, a visit that was originally mean to last for three hours but was eventually scaled back to less than an hour, leading to disappointment among the Palestinians.

"This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of the human heart - to know and worship God", said Trump.

In Tehran on Monday, Iran's newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed U.S. strategy in the Middle East, dismissing Trump's summit with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia as "just a show".

Trump became the first sitting USA president to visit the Western Wall in the disputed city, placing his hand on one of the most sacred sites in Judaism in a highly symbolic move.

Standing alongside Trump, Abbas, 82 and in the 12th year of his original five-year term, said he was determined to deliver an agreement for all Palestinians, although he did not provide any substance on how such an objective could be achieved. Nor, for that matter, did he publicly press Israel to curb settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, as Palestinians had hoped.

Still, Mitchell stressed that the challenges in Israel and the Palestinian territories remain just as stiff as ever as Trump joins the long list of U.S. presidents who have tried to broker Middle East peace.

Trump is visiting the Palestinian territory at the same as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are on hunger strike since April 17.

On a visit to the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, the president and first lady Melania Trump laid a wreath on a stone slab under which ashes from some of those killed in concentration camps are buried.

Trump toured two iconic sites in Jerusalem, a city holy to Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Netanyahu played down the incident, saying U.S.

He was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders during the visit to the site in east Jerusalem. He unexpectedly offered a new defense of his disclosure of classified information to Russian diplomats. Trump has sent mixed signals about how he will approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Never mentioned the word 'Israel'". Trump's actions since have left them disappointed, with the embassy remaining in Tel Aviv - at least for now - and the White House seeking to restart peace efforts.

  • Leroy Wright