United States grants Israel extra defence aid: Netanyahu

The same Trump who called Islam an "evil" religion and held Saudi Arabia accountable for the 9/11 attack signed a $110 billion arms deal with the House of Saud last weekend. Both sides will face tough decisions.

During his public addresses in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Trump talked forcefully about peace but refrained from offering specifics of how it could be achieved or from berating one side or the other too harshly. No details or timetable have yet to be established for negotiations.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has criticised statements made by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Jerusalem's geographical division, saying that the remarks "disagree with the peace process and deny the Palestinian existence in the occupied city".

Trump's emphasis on the Iranian elements of threat against the Muslim countries in the region as well as Israel, was a reflection of his new policy in the region, which can simply be described as building an alliance against Iran.

Despite expectations, fueled by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster's promise that Trump will recognize Palestinian right for self-determination, he did nothing of the kind. But he never uttered the words "two-state solution", the longtime USA policy plan that would create a separate homeland for Palestinians.

In his interview with Israel Hayom, Trump also spoke of the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Trump was the first USA president to fly from Riyadh to Tel Aviv.

Marking the victory in the 1967 Battle of Jerusalem at the capital's military cemetery, Netanyahu added that while Israel greatly appreciates the USA assistance and support, "history has proven that Israel's security depends on our readiness and our ability to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat".

Still, not all was rosy for Netanyahu or his supporters, or for mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who sat in the front row.

As ISIS insults democracy with fresh terror attacks, Trump's proposed ban on radical Muslims entering the USA doesn't look so insane.

Before the USA president touched down in Israel, however, his coming visit was marred when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters the US delegation was heading to "Tel Aviv, home of Judaism". But Trump, in a carefully worded speech, walked around the issue.

And therein lies the catch: The willingness of the Sunni coalition to normalize relations between Israel and the Gulf states is predicated on the resolution of the Palestinian conflict.

The people of Israel, Netanyahu stressed, "are not a nation of refugees". And it wasn't like Netanyahu didn't try.

But Trump purposefully declined to take on the issue or to threaten cutting US aid to the Palestinians until the practice is stopped.

Singing, dancing and waving blue-and-white Israeli flags, crowds of mainly religious Jews marched through the lanes of Palestinian areas, while some crossed the walled Old City's Jewish Quarter.

Mr Trump is in Israel on the second stop in his nine-day tour of the Middle East and Europe.

The mere optics of Trump's visit to Israel have introduced a new chapter for renewed hope that some measure of stability and clear-headedness can emerge in this very troubled region.

  • Leroy Wright