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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss peace efforts with Donald Trump

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he would discuss ways to advance peace with Donald Trump on the US President’s first visit to Israel on Monday.

“I will discuss with President Trump ways to strengthen even further the first and strongest alliance with the US,” Netanyahu told his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Xinhua reported.

“We will strengthen security ties, which are strengthening daily, and we will also discuss ways to advance peace,” he added.

Trump, his wife Melania, and a 900-person delegation, including senior administration officials, business executives and security personnel, will arrive on Monday for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank.

Trump will meet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu on Monday before travelling to Bethlehem to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The meetings will focus on the US efforts to revive the long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The last round of talks reached an impasse on April 2014, mainly over Israel’s refusal to halt the construction in the West Bank settlements.

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to give a speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to conclude his visit, before heading to Europe.

Trump is expected to request Netanyahu and Abbas to make confidence-building steps, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported.

Citing a White House official, the daily reported that Trump will ask the Israelis to curb the expansion of the settlements and call on the Palestinians to halt payment for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to stop the “incitement” against Israel.

Trump’s first official trip outside the US included a visit to Saudi Arabia, where he signed $350-billion arms deal.

IANS