President Donald Trump greeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday morning at the White House in advance of an official meeting between the two men set during the lunch hour, even as the latter faces a corruption investigation back home. The sit-down comes in the middle of the yearly AIPAC confab — American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference — where UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Vice President Mike Pence are both scheduled to speak.
The two men will reportedly meet to discuss a much-anticipated Mideast Peace Deal. The timing of the meeting comes when both are embroiled in controversial investigations into their leadership and administrations.
Trump and Netanyahu, who have met several times before, are expected to discuss a range of issues beyond Israeli-Palestinian peace, with Iran, Syria and now North Korea topping their list.
Trump is attempting to act on international issues and negotiate with world leaders amid ongoing federal probes into whether anybody on his 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia to win the White House race, while Netanyahu is facing allegations of corruption that have resulted in calls for his resignation.
“The two might actually find this a bonding experience,” Alan Mendoza, a national security expert who founded the British think tank the Henry Jackson Society, said Sunday on Fox News’ “America’s News HQ.” Mendoza also pointed out that Netanyahu has not been charged in the corruption probe and that he’s been investigated “many, many times.”
Another factor in the effort to strike a peace deal is that Jared Kushner, the White House’s point man on the issue and Trump’s son-in-law, last week had his security clearance downgraded.
Despite the long alliance between the two nations, and Monday’s meeting will no doubt attempt to reestablish and maintain that friendship, there have been some concerns lately that the relationship between the two nations might be strained.
While the U.S. won points with Netanyahu by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of Israel and declaring an intent to relocate the U.S. embassy there, there have been suspicions of late that Trump is dragging his feet on dismantling former President Barack Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear deal.
Netanyahu is also worried, says Jonathan Schanzer of Washington, DC’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies, that Trump is not concerned enough about Iranian influence in Lebanon and increased infiltration of Syria.
“The Israelis now are undoubtedly sounding the alarm,” Schanzer, who researches Iran’s regional influence at FDD, told Fox News. “The assets the Israelis see on the other side of the border to its north — they are not happy.”
David Makovsky, a former State Department official who worked on Mideast peace negotiations, also told Fox News that Netanyahu prefers to keep those concerns out of the public eye and would be focused on trying to shore up the U.S./Israeli alliance.
“It’s important for [Netanyahu] not to run afoul of Trump,” said Makovsky, now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “It’s necessary for him to show he’s not so engulfed by his own legal problems that he’s not functioning as a leader.”
UPDATE: Live video
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 5, 2018
“Jerusalem was a wonderful thing…Many presidents were discussing whether or not to make that decision, they promised it in the campaigns, but they were never able to do what they should have done. So I was able to it,” @POTUS says of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital pic.twitter.com/JS27qg1rOO
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 5, 2018