Air Force Once touched down in Jerusalem, expectations could not have been higher. On Monday, Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Israel on a maiden international tour; the first to fly to Israel direct from Saudi Arabia; and surely the first to boast, without any foreign policy experience whatsoever, that "as a deal maker, I'd like to do . . . the deal that can't be made."
Trump's trip to Israel also could not be more fraught. Unlike on the first leg of his international tour, in Saudi Arabia, where King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's lavish embrace of the president and his coterie was almost obscene in its over-the-top opulence, in Israel Trump faces a minefield of his own making. Israeli officials were reportedly enraged when it was revealed that Trump had shared their intelligence on ISIS with Russian officials in the West Wing, endangering one of their key sources embedded in the terrorist group.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went out of his way not to mention the snafu, telling reporters that intelligence sharing between the two countries "has never been better," the incident may have put a strain on the relationship. Trump's trip to the Western Wall also ran into problems, when an unnamed Trump advisor reportedly told his Israeli counterparts that Netanyahu could not accompany Trump to the sacred site, because it was not in Israel—mirroring an earlier gaffe wherein Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Tel Aviv the "home of Judaism" (it is not).
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A reported $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, brokered by the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was also said to have left a bitter taste in some Israelis mouths. Netanyahu's cabinet ministers reportedly only turned up to greet Trump at Ben-Gurion International Airport after the prime minister ordered them to turn up.
In his brief remarks from the tarmac, Trump got quickly down to the business of laying the groundwork for a peace plan—or at least a statement of his commitment to a deal, in principle. "We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region, and its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony, prosperity, and peace," the president said after greeting his Israeli counterpart. "But we can only get there working together. There is no other way."