Published May 22, 2017
Ahead of President Trump’s two-day visit to Israel, one minister expressed concerns Sunday over the U.S.’ $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which was finalized over the weekend.
Yuval Steinitz, a senior cabinet member and close confidant to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called Saudi Arabia a “hostile country” and added that the deal was "definitely something that should trouble us."
Steinitz’s concerns came as Trump made his way to the U.S.’ strongest Middle Eastern ally. Trump signed the big arms deal in Riyadh on Saturday and Sunday called for unity between the U.S. and Middle Eastern nations in the fight to “stamp out extremism.”
Aside from talks about the deal with Saudi Arabia, Trump is expected to address several key issues with Israeli leaders, including laying the ground work for a possible peace deal with the Palestinians. Trump also plans to visit the Holocaust memorial and the Western Wall during his time in Israel.
Trump has not said how he plans to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians as he seeks the so-called “ultimate deal.” Though, senior adviser Jared Kushner and business lawyer Jason Greenblatt have been put in charge with coming up with some sort of plan to get a deal on the table.
White House aides have played down expectations for significant progress on the peace process during Trump's stop, casting it as more symbolic than substantive. Yet Trump may still need to engage in some delicate diplomacy following revelations that he disclosed highly classified intelligence Israel obtained about the Islamic State with top Russian officials, without Israel's permission.
While Netanyahu in the past has expressed support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, he has been vague about this goal since Trump took office.
A senior official who was part of the Palestinian delegation said Trump is planning to try to relaunch peace talks, with a goal of reaching an agreement within a year.
The Trump administration rejected a request from the Palestinians to push for an Israeli settlement freeze, but promised to sort out the issue during peace negotiations, according to the official.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.