Next stop for Trump is Israel, in pursuit of 'ultimate deal'

Trump will arrive for the whirlwind visit to Israel and to the occupied Palestinian territories Monday, amid mounting questions over what - if any - practical steps he will take to advance his "ultimate peace deal" between the two sides.

Mr Trump will hold talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders during the course of his two-day stop.

It also comes as he contends with a raft of problems back home, including a special counsel investigating whether his associates colluded with Russian Federation.

Trump will meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu on Monday before travelling to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He's going to be visiting some of the most symbolic sites of Christianity and Judaism, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which is, according to Christian tradition, where Jesus was crucified and entombed and resurrected.

After the reception ceremony, Trump will fly by helicopter to Jerusalem for a meeting with Rivlin at the president's residence before continuing to the Old City, where he is set to become the first-ever sitting United States president to visit the Western Wall.

A few days later, US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Trump, who will meet separately with Netanyahu and Abbas, will "reaffirm America's unshakable bond to the Jewish state" while expressing "his desire for dignity and self-determination for the Palestinians". In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, the USA ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley said: "I don't know what the policy of the administration is, but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how we've always seen it and that's how we should pursue it ..."

On the issue of Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike in Israeli jails, the Palestinian official called on the global community to pressure Israel to comply with the 4th Geneva Convention and the worldwide laws when dealing with prisoners.

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The Palestinians want the eastern part of the city to be the capital of their future state, alongside the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel considers the entire city to be its capital. He urged Netanyahu to reject Palestinian statehood and insist that Jerusalem remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.

Trump has been receptive to Israel's position that Palestinian leaders must do more to stop incitement to violence, including by stopping payments to the families of those who have carried out attacks and were killed or are now in jail.

"This is President Trump's first visit outside the U.S., and the honor is ours that he has chosen to come to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and - of course - to the State of Israel", Netanyahu said in Sunday's cabinet meeting.

He has spoken of reaching "the toughest deal to make", one that has long bedevilled U.S. presidents, vowing "we will get it done".

Palestinians, who viewed Trump's victory with some trepidation, are said to have been pleasantly surprised by Trump's openness during a recent meeting with Abbas in Washington.

Dr. Mitchell Bard is the author/editor of 24 books including the 2017 edition of Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, The Arab Lobby, and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

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She is scheduled to give a television interview on Thursday night and an announcement is expected by week's end. He also said there would be a meeting between the two countries' cabinet ministers in the near future.

While hosting Abbas at the White House in March, Trump boldly stated that achieving peace is "something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as hard as people have thought over the years".

"He said ... he will not impose solutions on us or on the Israelis", Erekat said.

While the Israeli government is believed to have strategically stalled legislation that further entrenched Israel's illegal settlement expansion until after Trump's inauguration, owing to the belief among Israeli leaders that right-wing policies would be more easily implemented under a Trump presidency, Trump's unpredictable nature has left Israeli authorities and Palestinian leaders alike unsure of his actual stance on the conflict.

"These are concessions ahead of Trump's visit that do not harm Israel's interests", an Israeli diplomatic source said.

He has since said the move was still being looked at.

Some even called for an end to the idea of Palestinian state. The ministers were also told there would be no time for them to personally greet Trump.

He also lashed out at Iran, accusing Tehran of fuelling "the fires of sectarian conflict and terror" and calling for its global isolation.

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When Netanyahu visited Washington in February, Trump upended long-held USA policy by withholding clear support for an independent Palestine, saying he was open to whatever solution Israelis and Palestinians agreed to.

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