Trump Lands in Israel, Says ‘Iran Can Never Be Allowed to Possess a Nuclear Weapon’
US President Donald Trump and his entourage arrived in Israel on Monday morning on the second leg of a foreign tour that began in Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Trump departed immediately for the holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, with stops at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – believed to be the burial place of Jesus – and the Western Wall.
Speaking at the residence of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Trump addressed the growing threat to the region posed by Iran.
“Most importantly, the United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran can never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, not ever, ever, and must cease its training and funding of terror groups and militias, and must cease immediately,” Trump said.
This is a “deep consensus in the world, including in the Muslim world,” Trump added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier welcomed Trump on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. “Hello, my friend,” Trump told Netanyahu, as they shook hands. “Welcome, my good friend,” Netanyahu responded.
Netanyahu noted that Trump had flown directly to Israel from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. “I hope that one day an Israeli prime minister will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh,” Netanyahu said.
Israel, Netanyahu told Trump, was ready for a “genuine and durable peace.”
“Mr. President, yesterday in Saudi Arabia you delivered a forceful speech of clarity and conviction. You called on all nations to drive out terrorists and extremists. You called for the forces of civilization to confront the forces of barbarism. Mr. President, for 69 years, Israel has been doing precisely that,” Netanyahu said.
In a speech to the leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries on Sunday, Trump urged the formation of a “coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.”
Netanyahu highlighted the place of religious tolerance – the main theme of Trump’s visit – in Israeli society. “Throughout the Middle East, Christian communities are decimated, minorities persecuted. But here in Israel, we’re proud to have a growing and thriving Christian community, and we guarantee the rights of all.”
Trump was equally effusive about the Jewish state in his remarks.
“In this land so rich in history, Israel has built one of the world’s great civilizations, a strong, resilient, determined and prosperous nation. It is also a nation forged in the commitment that we will never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated,” the president said.
On his meetings in Saudi Arabia, Trump related, “we reached historic agreements to pursue greater and greater cooperation in the fight against terrorism and its evil ideology.”
Trump’s schedule includes a visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City and a short stop at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial.
“While the President’s visit to Israel is brief, he has chosen to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust by participating in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. During the ceremony, the President will rekindle the eternal flame and lay a wreath on a stone slab under which ashes from extermination camps are buried. El Maleh Rachamim, a Jewish prayer for the souls of the martyrs’ of the Holocaust, will be sung by a cantor,” Yad Vashem said in a statement.
Trump will travel to Bethlehem tomorrow for a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Over the last month, the president has stated on several occasions his desire to achieve the elusive final peace deal between Israel and the PA.