I May Attend US Embassy Opening In Jerusalem, Says Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has arrived in Washington for a meeting with US President Trump, deliver a speech to America's biggest pro-Israel group and resume his critique of the Iran nuclear deal, even as a corruption scandal involving Netanyahu grows in Israel. I said a billion? "If I can, I will".

Netanyahu likened the USA leader to the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great, who freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon; to Lord Balfour, who a century ago affirmed the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine; and president Harry Truman, who recognized the Jewish state. President Trump said he is looking into attending the opening of the embassy.

He appeared to be referring only to the initial office. Before their meeting, their fifth so far, Netanyahu thanked Trump for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. "I think we're as close now as, maybe, ever before".

But, Trump said he had actually given peace a chance by removing Jerusalem as an obstacle in long-stalled negotiations that have collapsed under successive USA administrations of both political parties. They will not accept any Israeli security presence in a Palestinian state. Shlomo Filber, another long-time confidant to Netanyahu, has also agreed to be a state witness in the case. He became the first USA vice president to address the Knesset, and his drama-filled speech evoked a standing ovation from most members but jeers from members of the Joint List of Arab-dominated parties after Pence promised the new embassy would open before the end of 2019. "I have the greatest respect for the American Jewish community", he went on, noting he was scheduled to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

ESTRIN: Yeah, well, Netanyahu said - he told us that Kushner was not present during a more limited meeting with limited staff, but then he was at a working lunch that the two leaders had.

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And as prime minister, he said, he sees something his citizens can not in the deep and interdependent intelligence and defense networks the two allies have built. Kushner, Trump's point-man for the Mideast, is under intense scrutiny over his business dealings as special counsel Robert Mueller barrels forward with his Russian Federation probe.

In a pointed reminder of his troubles at home, Netanyahu and his wife were questioned separately by police for hours on Friday before the prime minister left the next day for Washington. The Israeli leader also emphasized the two nations' mutual concern about Iran's activities in the region, saying that Tehran "must be stopped". Kushner has also been stripped of his top security clearance in another blow to his credibility as an global negotiator.

Kushner's business dealings are also under special-counsel scrutiny.

Swirling legal investigations distracting both leaders at home, and a stunning fall from grace for Trump's son-in-law and would-be peace negotiator, Jared Kushner, have added to the mix of politics, personalities and historical grievances that have always hindered Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, speaking at AIPAC on Sunday, said that the Jewish people will "forever" remember Trump's decision.

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Asked Monday about chances for peace, Trump seemed more optimistic than he has in other recent comments.

Asked by a reporter about the disparity between his closeness with Trump and the United States president's low approval ratings among American Jews, Netanyahu said "Israel has a national security interest related to its very survival..."

The decision caused uproar in the Arab world and led Palestinian leaders to reject a USA role in mediating a resolution to the decades old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We are very close in trade deals, we are very, very, close on military and terrorism and all the things we have to work together on".

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