Israel’s Netanyahu to speak with Trump later Sunday

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3rd R) attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 22, 2017.
RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would speak with US President Donald Trump by telephone later in the day, their first talks since the billionaire businessman took office.

Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting that he planned to discuss with Trump the conflict with the Palestinians, Syria and “the Iranian threat.”

Trump has pledged strong support for Israel and vowed during his campaign to recognise Jerusalem as the country’s capital despite the city’s contested status.

Israeli right-wing politicians have welcomed Trump’s election, with hardliners who oppose a Palestinian state hoping it will allow them to move forward with their goal of annexing most of the occupied West Bank.

In an initial move, Israeli officials on Sunday approved building permits for 566 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem.

Hardline Israeli ministers are also pushing to annex a large Jewish settlement near Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, a move many say would badly damage prospects for a two-state solution.

Netanyahu also strongly opposed the nuclear deal between Israel’s arch-foe Iran and global powers, including the United States. Trump criticised the nuclear deal during his campaign.

The United States is Israel’s most important ally, providing it with more than $3 billion per year in defence aid.

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