(Central Israel) — The Israeli media today is buzzing with speculation that President Trump is coming to Israel in May, and make Jerusalem his first foreign destination since taking office in January.
Big question: If the speculation is accurate, is the President is planning to announce that he is moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as he repeatedly promised during the campaign and in the early weeks of his administration?
The timing of the President’s potential visit is certainly curious, as it could come one day before the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty during the Six Day War of 1967.
The Palestinian leadership is strongly opposed to the U.S. moving the embassy, even to West Jerusalem. Various Arab states have expressed their concerns and opposition, as well. On May 3rd, President Trump will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.
Here’s what we know so far:
- The President is going to Brussels for a summit of NATO leaders on May 25.
- The President will then attend a G-7 summit in Italy May 26-27.
- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin formally invited to President Trump in January to visit Israel at his earliest opportunity.
- Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Mr. Trump at the White House in February and personally reiterated the invitation.
- President Trump told Netanyahu he wants to visit Israel very soon in his administration, as he has actually never visited the Jewish State before.
- The working theory in the Israeli press is that Air Force One will arrive in Israel on May 22, and depart on May 23.
- During his 24 hours on the ground, it is being speculated that Mr. Trump with meet with the Prime Minister, tour Jerusalem, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum and memorial, the Western Wall and other key sites, possibly including Masada and the Allenby Bridge which connects Israel to the Kingdom of Jordan.
- It is not clear whether he would make a major speech, or address the Knesset.
- Yesterday, an advance team from Washington arrived in Israel.
- Trump confirmed the trip is being considered, but did not confirm anything is set.
- There is also speculation the President might visit Saudi Arabia, and possibly Egypt and Jordan in May or early June.
- Senior U.S. officials have visited each country in recent days, and President Trump met with leaders from each of these countries in Washington since taking office.
“U.S. President Donald Trump is to arrive in Israel for a whirlwind visit on the morning of May 22, and will leave in the early afternoon a day later,” the Times of Israel is reporting. “The timing of his visit is significant, as it will be immediately before Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day, which begins on the evening of May 23….No previous US president has visited Israel in the first months of his term.”
The Jerusalem Post notes that “Trump may use his visit to Israel next month to announce the moving of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” citing Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Florida). “DeSantis, who is chairman of the House committee with oversight of US embassies around the world, said the timing of Trump’s visit – two days before Jerusalem Day, marking 50 years since the reunification of the capital – is not accidental.”
“What better time could there be to announce the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem when you are over there celebrating with our Israeli friends this very important 50th anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem?” DeSantis asked. “I think the announcement of that trip is a signal that it is more likely to happen than not, and will send a powerful signal to other countries around the world that America is back and will stand by our allies and will not let folks cow us into not doing the right thing.”
The Post added that “Moscow announced earlier this month that it recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that it expects east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state. It also made clear that it had no intention of moving its embassy. Yediot Aharonot reported on Thursday that Trump may announce united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but might say that the time is not yet right to move the embassy.”
That said, a headline in Haaretz this morning states: “Israel Believes Trump Will Not Seek to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem for Now, Officials Say.”
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