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Israeli Prime Minister meets US envoy ahead of presidential visit

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Israel’s Prime Minister met the US special representative yesterday to finalise details of next week’s visit.

President Donald Trump is currently scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday and take part in a brief welcome ceremony at Ben-Gurion airport. He will then travel by helicopter to Jerusalem for a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin at his residence.

President Trump will embark on a private tour of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, he will not be accompanied by any representatives of the Israeli government. In the afternoon President Trump will meet Prime Minister Netanyahu and this will be followed by a joint press conference. In the evening, President Trump and his wife Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner will join the Prime Minister for dinner.

On Tuesday President Trump will travel to Bethlehem for a meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Trump will then visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust and then deliver a speech at the Israel Museum at 11.30 UK time. He will then leave for the airport.

Yesterday, US officials criticised Education Minister Naftali Bennett after Channel 2 reported that the minister voiced opposition to President Trump’s efforts to revive the long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. One of President Trump’s advisers told the Israeli team organising the visit: “This is not how we would expect Israel to act towards an ally that always stands by its side, particularly this friendly administration.” He added: “Apparently some of the ministers don’t understand the sensitivity of the situation regarding the embassy.”

In response, a spokesperson for Mr Bennett said that the minister “welcomes Trump on his first visit to Israel,” but at the same time “protects Israel’s security and guards its policies”.

Israeli media have reported that Israel is lining up a package of new economic policies to support the Palestinian Authority during President Trump’s visit.

The Palestinians are also preparing to present a wish list of new projects which are likely to include an airport in the West Bank, hotels on the coast of the Dead Sea, a power station in the northern West Bank and a cement factory in Bethlehem.