News ID: 193009
Published: 0925 GMT May 17, 2017

Trump discusses Israel trip with Netanyahu in phone call

Trump discusses Israel trip with Netanyahu in phone call

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have discussed the American head of state’s upcoming visit to the occupied Palestinian lands.

The two leaders talked over the phone on Tuesday, a Netanyahu spokesman said, but did not specify who initiated the call.

“There was a call yesterday between the president and prime minister for about 20 minutes,” the spokesman said Wednesday. “The only topic discussed was the upcoming visit.”

Trump is expected to visit Israel on May 22, after making a stop in Saudi Arabia during his first foreign trip as president.

The call came amid the White House’s struggle to contain the public relations nightmare that followed Trump’s firing of former FBI chief James Comey last week.

Trump found himself in a new controversy over the weekend, after Washington Post claimed that he had shared highly classified information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, during a meeting at the White House earlier this month.

The New York Times claimed later on that the documents had Israeli origin and provided important information about the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.

Israeli officials, however, declined to comment on whether they were the source of the information.

Israel’s minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday hailed security ties between the two allies saying the intelligence-sharing between them would continue to be “unprecedented” in scope.

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer also issued a statement, saying that Tel Aviv “looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump.”

Security has been one of the key discussion points between Israeli and American officials since Trump’s inauguration.

On May 8, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford arrived in Tel Aviv and discussed security matters with Netanyahu and Liberman.

In April, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Israel on his first trip as the Pentagon chief, where he reaffirmed Washington’s “absolute and unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.”

General Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of the US European Command, echoed the same stance when he visited the occupied Palestinian lands in March.

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