Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 21, 2017. RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he will discuss peace efforts with US President Donald Trump when he visits this week, while the Israeli cabinet considered economic gestures toward the Palestinians.
Trump landed in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for his first foreign tour since taking office. He visits Israel and the Palestinian territories on Monday and Tuesday.
“I will discuss with President Trump ways to strengthen even further the first and strongest alliance with the US,” Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.
“We will strengthen security ties, which are strengthening daily, and we will also discuss ways to advance peace,” he said.
Netanyahu also noted the significance of Trump’s first presidential overseas trip including a visit to “Jerusalem, the capital of Israel,” after Trump seemed to have backed away from his campaign pledge to relocate the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1967 in a move never recognised by the international community.
It later annexed east Jerusalem and considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Members of Netanyahu’s government were set to discuss and approve a series of measures related to Palestinians in the West Bank.
The new measures were seen as confidence-building steps ahead of Trump’s visit.
Netanyahu’s office would not provide details on the measures, which were reportedly to include more building permits for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Most of the West Bank is entirely under Israeli control and Palestinians face extremely long odds in being granted building permits in those areas, while Israeli settlement building has meanwhile continued.
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz however said that Israel “wanted to improve the lives of Palestinians.”
“There’s an intention to approve measures that would enable (Palestinian) economic development,” Katz told army radio, without providing details.