Major US Jewish Organizations on Left and Right Hail Trump's Israel Visit

  • Major US Jewish Organizations on Left and Right Hail Trump's Israel Visit

Major US Jewish Organizations on Left and Right Hail Trump's Israel Visit

Hours before the arrival of US President Donald Trump to Bethlehem, for a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the families of some 1,500 hunger-striking Palestinian detainees sent a letter to Trump telling him that Palestinian prisoners are freedom fighters, according to worldwide law, and they do not want them to die inside Israeli prisons. "I will call them from now on losers because that's what they are", he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet met Sunday in tunnels near the site for a special session marking the 50th anniversary of Israel's capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 war, an event it celebrates as the "unification" of its eternal capital.

Trump, for his part, made sure not to mention the two-state solution and did not touch on any of the Palestinians' demands, including the issue of settlements, detainees or the right to self-determination.

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD ABBAS, Palestinian Authority (through interpreter): Our fundamental problem is with the occupation and settlements, and failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine, in the same way we recognize it. The former US administration of Barack Obama was deeply opposed to Israel's expansion of the settlements and in December withheld its veto from a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the policy. One small problem was that the USA government did not try to stop a lawsuit against certain people or elements of the Saudi government that allegedly supported the fifteen Saudi men out of nineteen who hijacked four airplanes on September 11, 2001, and committed suicide by killing almost 3,000 Americans. "We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity", he said. The pope and the president got off to a rocky start, with Francis criticizing Trump's pledge to build a border wall and Trump calling the pontiff "disgraceful" for doubting his Christian faith.

Yet, right before Mr. Trump began his trip, Israel threw another wrench into the works.

Daniel Estrin is Jerusalem correspondent for NPR News.

Palestinians held angry protests against the visit in both West Bank and Gaza, according to a BBC report. And while the Israeli government breathed a sigh of relief, the very public rage of the Israeli intelligence establishment may be undercutting one of the strongest US relationships in the region. Speaking at the Israel Museum, he declared both sides ready to move forward, though there were no tangible signs of the peace process being revived.

DANIEL ESTRIN: Clinton tried. Former President Barack Obama's note - written when he was first running for president - was much longer.

Jon Alterman, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Iran's willingness to meddle in the Middle East also requires Trump to consider this: "How do you escape a dynamic whereby Iran keeps doing cheap, asymmetrical things that force you to do expensive things?"

Following the Manchester bombings and the Trump-Saudi summit in Riyadh, Iranian officials pointed out the main sponsor and exporter of global terrorism was the House of Al-Saud. She admired Trump's business success, but she said, that doesn't translate into making someone a peacemaker.

"I want to send our condolences to the many families who lost their loved ones", Trump said. Trump also laid a wreath and spoke at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The US president used the occasion to also condemn the "evil losers" behind a bomb blast at a pop concert in the British city of Manchester that killed 22 people.