Trump and Clinton both meet Netanyahu to discuss future of US-Israel ties

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 2:58pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 10:58pm

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each met privately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, one day before the candidates square off in their first presidential debate.

Trump “discussed at length Israel’s successful experience with a security fence that helped secure its borders” with Netanyahu in a meeting at the candidate’s home in Trump Tower that lasted longer than an hour, according to a statement from the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign.

Clinton, who held her own hour-long meeting later in the day with the Israeli leader at his hotel, pledged “to take our partnership to the next level,” her campaign said in a statement.

Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the US border with Mexico as way to confront illegal immigration has become a cornerstone of his campaign, although the statement did not say whether he drew direct parallels with Israel’s border fence, which is meant to combat terrorism.

The real estate investor also “acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People for over 3,000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing Congressional mandate to recognise Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the State of Israel,” his campaign said after Sunday’s meeting.

Palestinians claim all of east Jerusalem, including the Old City’s holy places, for the capital of a future state, while the current Israeli government says the city is its capital and won’t cede any of its eastern sector, which was annexed after a 1967 war in a move that isn’t internationally recognised. As a result, the US and most other countries maintain embassies instead in Tel Aviv, although the US Congress has periodically tried to move it.

During this year’s Republican presidential primaries several hopefuls, including Trump, advocated the move, which U.S. presidents have blocked for more than 20 years.

Trump said “peace will only come when the Palestinians renounce hatred and violence and accept Israel as a Jewish State,” the campaign said in the statement. He and Netanyahu also discussed U.S. military assistance to Israel, regional stability, and the country’s technology sector, as well as the Iran nuclear deal, which both oppose.

Reporters were refused access to the event, held at Trump’s residence at Trump Tower in New York.

The Trump campaign did not say whether the two discussed a ban on Muslim immigration that Trump has proposed and which Netanyahu has criticised, or the issue of profiling as a way to counter terrorism.

In response to a bombing in New York on Sept. 17 that injured at least 29 people, Trump cited the example of Israel. “In Israel they profile,” Trump said on Fox News. “They’ve done an unbelievable job, as good as you can do.”

A brief statement from the Netanyahu’s office said the pair discussed “issues relating to Israel’s security and its efforts to achieve stability and peace in the Middle East.”

“Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Mr. Trump for his friendship and support for Israel,” according to the statement .

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has advised the candidate on issues relating to Jewish voters, were also present at the meeting, according to statement from Netanyahu’s office.

Clinton pledged to work with Israel to ensure that Iran lives up to its commitments under the nuclear deal reached with the Obama administration, and affirmed her commitment “to work toward a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement.