Kafe Knesset for Feb. 10
Photo credit: Kobi Gideon (GPO)
Preparations for the first meeting between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump continue. According to an Israeli official involved in the preparations, the White House is going out of its way to provide a warm welcome to the Netanyahus. Netanyahu’s first encounter with the new administration is turning into a family affair. Kafe Knesset has learned that the premier’s oldest son, Yair, will join his parents next week. He is currently on a private vacation in the US and will travel to meet his parents when they arrive in Washington on Monday.
Yair, 26, has accompanied his parents on important visits in the past, and according to sources close to the family is paying for his own travel and stay. Last month, Yair was investigated by the police as part of the ongoing corruption probes against Bibi, and Yair’s connections with Australian businessman James Packer, who has funded some of his past vacations abroad, have been the subject of ongoing media scrutiny in recent months.
Ahead of the trip, Netanyahu met today with President Reuven Rivlin and will convene the security cabinet on Sunday afternoon to discuss the agenda and the goals of the Trump meeting. While most of Netanyahu’s coalition partners are willing to back his stance on any matter, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett will push him for more. He is demanding Netanyahu disavow his 2009 Bar Ilan speech, in which he endorsed the two-state solution. “I expect the PM to tell Trump that there is no chance for a Palestinian state and that we should start applying Israeli law on West Bank area C. Trump will follow our suit. So the story is Netanyahu and what we want. After 50 years, I expect Netanyahu to state clearly that he opposes a Palestinian state because it’s stupid,” Bennett said today. He added that he is concerned about Israelis encouraging Trump to stand by the two-state solution.
But Bennett will likely be disappointed. Boaz Bismuth, senior foreign editor of Israel Hayom, Israel’s free daily funded by the Adelsons, published the first Israeli press interview by President Trump this morning. “I want Israel to be reasonable in the peace process − and I want it to finally happen after so many years,” Trump told Israel Hayom. “There is limited remaining territory. Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains,” he added, pouring some cool water over the settlers’ celebrations and dreams of a greater Israel under the new administration. Meretz leader Zehava Galon tweeted in response: “I’m not a big Trump fan but I have to admit it’s becoming amusing hearing Right wing analysts squirm from his settlement statements.”