President Donald Trump arrived in in Israel earlier today, following a weekend in Saudi Arabia. The President delivered his first speech in Israel at the Tel Aviv airport and later met with President Reuven Rivlin.
Air Force One’s flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv was historic, not only because it carried an American President from a Muslim-majority country to the Jewish-majority country, but because it was the first-known direct flight between Saudi Arabia and Israel, notes USA Today.
“Thank you and shalom,” Trump said at the airport. “I have come to this sacred and ancient land to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between the United States and the state of Israel.”
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were met by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In his own speech, Netanyahu said that he hoped an Israeli leader could take the same flight from Riyadh to Israel one day.
“May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path towards reconciliation and peace,” Netanyahu said. “I look forward to working with you in the years ahead, Mr. President, to advance security, prosperity and peace. I’m confident that under your leadership the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States will become ever greater, ever stronger.”
Trump later met with Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin. At the beginning of the meeting, Trump praised David Friedman, the lawyer Trump named his ambassador to Israel.
“There’s a great feeling for peace throughout the Middle East,” Trump said. “I think people have just had enough… they’ve had enough of the bloodshed and the killing and I think you’re going to see things starting to happen.”
Trump also suggested that “what’s happened with Iran” has brought Middle East “toward” Israel.
“I’ve seen such a different feeling toward Israel from countries that, as you know, were not feeling so well about Israel not so long ago,” Trump told Rivlin. “It’s brought a lot of folks together, and I think you’ve seen it, and you’ve even mentioned it on many occasions. That is a real positive.”
“Young Israeli and Palestinian children deserve to grow up in safety, and to follow their dreams free from the violence that has destroyed so many lives,” Trump told Rivlin. “Thank both you and Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu for your commitment to achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I also look forward to discussing the peace process with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”
After meeting with Rivlin, Trump will head to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and will become the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall. Tmorrow, he will go to Bethlehem to visit Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and will return to Jerusalem to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum.
Trump is currently in the middle of his first overseas trip since becoming President. One theme of the trip has been an attempt to highlight peace between three of the world’s major religions. After visiting the homes of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism, Trump will visit the Vatican and meet with the leader of Christianity, Pope Francis, later in the week.