Netanyahu Says He Hasn't Seen US Peace Plan Yet

07 March, 2018, 00:04 | Author: Austin Daniel
  • 20 2017 shows the exterior of the US embassy building in Tel Aviv

A confidant of Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday agreed to turn state's witness in a burgeoning corruption case, becoming the third former aide to testify against the Israeli leader in a series of scandals and casting a shadow over a high-profile visit to the White House.

Netanyahu told Israeli reporters traveling with him that he argued to Trump that the president should "fix or nix" the nuclear agreement signed three years ago limiting Iran's nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.

Netanyahu's visit to the United States includes a meeting in the White House with Trump, where he plans to reiterate his objection to the nuclear deal with Iran.

Netanyahu's visit while in Washington to the annual conference of the influential lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), will provide a boost for the right-wing Israeli leader as scandals and political turmoil brew at home.

"Last month, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two different corruption cases. Under your leadership, it's never been stronger", said Netanyahu. Trump's decision for the United States to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the embassy there from Tel Aviv reversed decades of USA policy, aggravated Arab allies and has complicated his administration's attempt to revive long-stalled Middle East peace talks. He added that the U.S. -Israel relationship had never been closer than since Trump took office.

Trump also claimed the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will be built very quickly and very inexpensively. Netanyahu and his wife were questioned separately by police for hours on Friday before their departure for Washington. He said it will only cost $250,000 and said, "It'll be very nice".

Trump and Netanyahu also discussed Iran, with the Israeli prime minister declaring, "Iran must be stopped". "I think we're as close now as, maybe, ever before", he said.

Monday's meeting also came amid the continuing US investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, a probe that may have implications for the president's Mideast peace point man, son-in-law Jared Kushner, who recently lost his top secret security clearance.

Netanyahu seemed quite comfortable with the idea that peace talks aren't going to happen at any rate, saying that the Palestinians are "trying to run away from negotiations".

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There has been a number of security incidents at the White House in recent years. "We're working to notify next of kin". President Donald Trump was away at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and was scheduled to return Saturday afternoon.

Netanyahu likened the U.S. leader to the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great, who freed the Jews from captivity in Babylon; to Lord Balfour, who a century ago affirmed the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine; and president Harry Truman, who recognized the Jewish state.

Meanwhile, special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election, which Trump has repeatedly labeled as "fake news". Netanyahu said he has made his position clear.

Police suspect that Bezeq was given regulatory breaks in return for Netanyahu receiving positive coverage on Walla!, a news website owned by the telecoms group.

Israel is increasingly anxious that Trump is backsliding on a pledge to "fix" or dismantle the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In an additional case, dubbed Case 3000, involving a multibillion-dollar submarine deal with Germany, several members of Netanyahu's inner circle have been named as suspects, questioned or arrested.

"Iran has not given up its nuclear ambitions", he said.

"Sometimes there's disagreement" with the United States "and sometimes we even acted in the greater interest" of Israel".

At the same time, the meeting comes just after the United States announced it will open its embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel's 70th anniversary celebrations.

"There is no reason for us to go to early elections, and with good will that will not happen", he told journalists.



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