Israel

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Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

As he concluded his visit to the Middle East on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump championed the Gulf states and pitted himself as the world’s chief antagonist against Shiite Iran and its proxies, ISIS, Hezbollah and Hamas.

The Israeli diplomats and officials invited to hear the speech live in Jerusalem were delighted, rewarding Trump's remarks at the Israel Museum with frequent applause and numerous standing ovations.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

Israeli intelligence agents furious with Trump

May 17, 2017
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Kevin Lamarque/Reuters  

Israeli intelligence officials are reported to be furious with President Donald Trump, over his sharing of classified intelligence with Russia. According to BuzzFeed News, the Israeli officials say “their worst fears” have been confirmed.

The intelligence allegedly concerned the danger of ISIS planting a bomb in a laptop carried on board a US-bound plane.

Israel's parliament has passed a law that retroactively legalizes almost 4,000 settler homes built unlawfully on private Palestinian land in the West Bank, a move that critics say is a massive blow to any future peace deal.

President Trump spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone Sunday, in what was one of Trump's first conversations with a foreign leader since taking office.

The discussion was "very nice," Trump said after a ceremony to swear in senior White House staff. The White House later put out a statement saying the president invited Netanyahu to visit in February.

Updated at 3:32 p.m. ET

Foreign ministers and other diplomats from some 70 different countries descended on Paris on Sunday, with the intent to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The summit, which was held without leaders from either side of the conflict, pushed for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"We are here to reiterate strongly that the two-state solution is the only one possible," said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in his opening remarks to top envoys at the conference.

One recent evening in an Israeli lobbyist's office overlooking Tel Aviv, toasts were made over Trump-brand vodka and sparkling wine.

A group of activists who lobbied Israeli-Americans to vote for Donald Trump gathered around a boardroom table to celebrate his victory.

"Mazel tov!" they said, popping open a bottle of bubbly cava. "L'chaim!" they said, toasting life.

"I hope [Trump] is better than his vodka," one activist joked.

When Donald Trump shared his views on U.S.-Israel policy with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last March, one line in his speech was greeted with thundering applause.

"We will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem!" he shouted.

Previous presidential candidates have made the same promise, but none have kept it, having been warned by their security advisers that it would complicate Middle East negotiations and anger key allies.

Donald Trump's past contradictory statements on Israel have raised questions about his ability to handle foreign relations — especially as he moves closer to the Republican presidential nomination.

Whether he can sharpen his rhetoric will be the question Monday evening when he addresses the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

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