Talks underway for Trump to make first Israel visit in May

Talks underway for Trump to make first Israel visit in May(1)

Officials in Jerusalem and Washington are in advanced talks to arrange a visit by US President Donald Trump to Israel in May, an Israeli official said Wednesday in what would be Trump’s first ever visit to Israel.

The official confirmed talks were ongoing, but said no date had yet been set.

Israel Radio said the talks had been going on for several weeks and that a US delegation to prepare for the visit was set to arrive in Israel on Thursday. A senior diplomatic official told the radio that the chances of Trump coming to Israel were at 80 percent.

Trump, whose first scheduled foreign trip as president is a visit to Brussels next month, is looking to expand on that by arriving in Israel on May 21 or in the days after, Hebrew media reports said.

If Trump were to visit on those dates it would coincide with Israel’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, which falls this year on the eve of May 23 and the day of the 24th.

It also coincides with an important decision Trump will have to make on whether to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as he promised in his election campaign.

Read More: Times of Israel

We won’t apologize for Balfour Declaration, UK tells Palestinians

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The British government has emphatically refused to apologize for the publication, a century ago, of a document that legitimized the creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it is proud of the role Britain played in establishing Israel.

In February, the Balfour Apology Campaign, run by the Palestinian Return Center rights group, launched a petition on the British parliament website calling on Britain to “openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”

Last week the UK Foreign Office posted a response to the petition, which has so far gained some 13,400 online signatures. If the petition passes 100,000 signatures by May 3 it will debated in parliament.

“The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG (her Majesty’s Government) does not intend to apologise,” the response began. “We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.”

 

Read More: Times of Israel

Trump said bidding to defeat new anti-Israel UNESCO resolution

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, DC on February 15, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

The Trump administration has reportedly ordered US ambassadors in UNESCO member states to initiate meetings with their host countries’ foreign ministries in a bid to defeat an anti-Israel resolution that is to be debated at the UN cultural organization next week.

The passage last October by 23 votes to 6 of a UNESCO resolution sponsored by Arab states that ignored Jewish and Christian historical ties to Jerusalem holy sites sparked an outcry in Israel, and was castigated by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Israel and the United States suspended their funding to UNESCO in 2011 after the Palestinians were admitted as members. Both countries lost their voting rights as a result.

Next Monday, UNESCO is set to vote on a resolution that includes clauses denying any Jewish connection to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, and that attacks Israel for the killing of children in Gaza, Israel’s Channel 10 news reported Monday.

Read More: Times of Israel

President Trump at Holocaust event vows ‘We will confront anti-Semitism’

“We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As president of the US, I will always stand with the Jewish people.”

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump delivered his strongest denunciation of anti-Semitism yet onTuesday, calling Holocaust deniers “accomplice(s) to this horrible evil” and vowing to “confront anti-Semitism.”

In a keynote speech inside the ornate US Capitol rotunda at an annual Holocaust remembrance event organized by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Trump seemed to respond to concerns voiced by Jewish leaders in the early months of his administration that he was reluctant to tackle anti-Semitism head on.

“This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said. “We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As president of the US, I will always stand with the Jewish people.”

This year’s memorial was the first since the famous writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel passed away and Trump paid tribute to him, saying the lessons of his life would guide his decisions to prevent atrocities like the Holocaust from occurring again on his watch.

“I believe in Elie’s famous plea that ‘for the dead and the living we must bear witness,’” he said. “That is why we are here today, to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets that the Nazis massacred six million Jews.”

The president also castigated Holocaust deniers, in terms more strident than he has in the past.

“Those who deny the Holocaust are accomplice to this horrible evil. We will never be silent in the face of evil again,” he said, as a statue of Abraham Lincoln towered over him.

Read More: Times of Israel