- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are to meet in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. The meeting has been long awaited, at least by Netanyahu, who cheered Trump’s inauguration and tweeted ahead of his visit to the United States that the U.S.-Israeli alliance is “about to get stronger,” also telling reporters that he and Trump see “eye-to-eye.”
However, since the meeting to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel cannot only be about how strong the relationship between the United States and Israel is, here are five subjects one can expect to come up for discussion between Trump and Netanyahu.
Settlements – Both Trump and Netanyahu were openly critical of the decision by then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power to abstain from the U.N. vote to demand the cessation of settlement construction in the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem (the United States did not veto the resolution, and so it passed). Israel has since rapidly expanded settlement construction. But, just days ahead of Netanyahu’s visit, Trump has since said he doesn’t think settlement construction is conducive to the peace process after all. That might suggest Trump is planning more of a continuation of previous U.S. policy toward Israel than some of his other moves might suggest. For example, he promised to move the the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and appointed hardliner David Friedman to the post of U.S. ambassador.
The United Nations – Trump and his U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, seemingly agreed on nothing ahead of her congressional confirmation, except on the point that the United Nations treats Israel unfairly (a position with which Netanyahu strongly agrees). Some at her confirmation hearings suggested the United States defund the United Nations unless it changes its behavior toward Israel. Then, on Friday, Haley blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a top U.N. post — after U.N. officials had apparently received assurances from the United States that he would be approved. It’s possible the United Nations will come under discussion on Wednesday.
Iran – Another point on which Netanyahu and Trump’s predecessor, U.S. President Barack Obama, clashed: the Iran nuclear deal, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program but allows the country to continue enrichment. Over the course of his campaign, Trump threatened to tear up the Iran deal, despite the fact that he alone cannot do that. (Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany are all also signatories to the agreement). So far, he hasn’t moved on this. Some in Israel do not want him to ever do so. Whether he ever will may be discussed with Netanyahu.
The peace process with Palestinians (and Jared Kushner) – “I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians, that would be such a great achievement,” Trump told the New York Times in November. To that end, he has put his son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner in charge of the Middle East peace process. Kushner also has personal ties to Netanyahu, who was friendly with his father, making both man and mission fodder for discussion.
U.S. aid to Israel – Obama signed a historic $38 billion military aid deal with Israel. Perhaps, to demonstrate that it is he, not Obama, who is strengthening U.S. ties with Israel, Trump will feel the need to discuss some sort of aid offering, too.
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