President Trump promised a path toward peace in the Middle East on Thursday during his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital.
“We have a proposal for peace. It is a great proposal for the Palestinians. I think it is a very good proposal for Israel,” Trump said. “It covers a lot of the things that were over the years discussed and agreed on.”
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to talk about the Iranian nuclear deal and other issues.
But Trump applauded himself for his decision last month to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He painted it as a strategic move that will usher in a new era of peace — by eliminating it from discussions.
Both the Israelis and Palestinians consider the holy city to be their capital. Israel has maintained control of much of the city since 1967.
Trump promised to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as early as next year.
“There were never any deals that came close because Jerusalem,” Trump said. “You could never get past Jerusalem. So when people said I set it back. I didn’t set it back. I helped them. By taking it off the table.”
He also blasted Palestinian leaders for refusing to meet with Vice President Pence last week when he visited the region — vowing to withhold funds until an agreement is reached.
“We give hundreds of millions of dollars. And they said we never talked. Well, we do talk about it,” Trump said. “And when they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands.
“That money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he added.
Netanyahu lavished Trump with praise and promised to back the U.S. in its efforts in the Middle East.
“I want to say this is a historic decision that will be forever etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come,” he said of the U.S. officially recognizing Jerusalem as his country’s capital.
“People say that this pushes peace backward. I say it pushes peace forward because it recognizes history,” he said. “It recognizes the present reality and peace can only be built on the basis of truth.”
Netanyahu also noted Trump’s threatening to pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal and said Israel would back the move.
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