Netanyahu dogged by scandal, meets Trump at White House

World Today

US President Donald Trump welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House on March 5, 2018 in Washington,DC. Netanyahu, who is also grappling with a spreading governmental crisis that could trigger early elections, was due to meet Trump in the Oval Office and have a working lunch with the US leader, although analysts said little of note was likely to emerge from the meeting. (AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN)

U.S. President Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. The visit comes as he fights-off corruption scandals back home.

Netanyahu thanked Trump for deciding to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. And Trump suggested he may attend the opening. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

A meeting of long-time friends. That’s how U.S. President Donald Trump described hosting his guest, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House on Monday.

The Israeli prime minister is wildly popular among Trump supporters who see him as a crucial defense hawk operating in a tough region.

And Trump is equally adored by Netanyahu loyalists, for, among other things, his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and his plan to move the U.S. embassy there later this year. “Many Presidents were discussing whether or not to make that decision, and they promised it in campaigns, but were never able to do what they should have done. So, I was able to do it,” said Trump.

Washington is a familiar stomping ground for Netanyahu, who just days ago in Israel was being questioned by police over corruption charges. Netanyahu denies all wrong-doing.

On Monday, Israeli prosecutors announced a former Netanyahu spokesman had turned state’s witness against his old boss, agreeing to hand over audio recordings of Netanyahu and his wife as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

In Washington, the four-time prime minister said he was unfazed and focused on his visit. “Mr. President, I have been here for nearly four decades seeking to build the America/Israel alliance. And under your leadership, it has never been stronger, and the people of Israel see your position on Jerusalem, they see your position in Iran, they see your magnificent defense of Israel, and the truth in the United Nations,” Netanyahu said.

The international community has largely condemned Trump’s moves, warning they could potentially jeopardize the peace process. The president was confident they’ll do the exact opposite. “The biggest difficultly that anybody has had, and you look over 25 years, nobody could get past, number one, Jerusalem, they couldn’t get past it, we have taken it off the table,” claimed the U.S. president.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu will speak before the powerful pro-Israeli lobby, AIPAC. The crowd at its annual gathering will most certainly embrace him. The same can’t be said about nearly half of all Israelis. If Netanyahu wants to keep his job, his biggest challenge right now may be to be as popular there as he is here in Washington.