AFTER his triumphant visit to Latin American countries, Benjamin Netanyahu was in New York this week to hear Donald Trump declare: “I think that there is a good chance that peace could happen.”
Tellingly, Trump spoke only about the Palestinians while greeting the Israeli prime minister and did not mention the Iranian situation — the issue on which Netanyahu wants to focus.
“I really believe peace between the Palestinians and Israel would be a fantastic achievement,” the American president said. “We are giving it an absolute go.
“Most people would say there is no chance whatsoever. I actually think that with the ability of Bibi, and with the other side, we have a chance.”
Netanyahu said he was discussing with Trump the “terrible nuclear deal with Iran” as well as “how to roll back Iran’s growing aggression in the region, especially in Syria”.
Israeli officials said before the meeting that Netanyahu would give Trump concrete ideas on how to either change or scrap the nuclear accord.
The Israeli leader told reporters without going into detail: “The Americans have a desire to fix the agreement and I offered a plan on how to do it.”
He also praised Trump for America’s strong support for Israel at the UN, which both leaders were going on to address on Tuesday.
On Sunday, Netanyahu met privately with leaders of four leading Jewish organisations, who pressed him on his reneging on a pledge to allow multi-denominational prayer at the Western Wall.
Netanyahu flew to New York after wrapping up visits to Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.
He said the fact that the presidents of three important countries in Latin America publicly embraced Israel was a sign of the Jewish state's rising stature in the region and the world. He said after meeting Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto: “There is a lot of sympathy for Israel.”
Netanyahu, who characterised Israel's relationship with Mexico as a “great friendship”, said that he was not surprised by the warmth of his reception in Latin America.
What did surprise him, he added, was the lack of protest and criticism in the
media, especially since he was warned beforehand that Israel has a problem in Latin America.
Hundreds of members of the 45,000-strong Jewish community gave Netanyahu a rousing ovation when he spoke at the local Jewish centre.
Netanyahu met Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in New York for 90 minutes on Monday — the first-ever public meeting between the two leaders, although they met twice secretly in 2016 and speak periodically on the phone.
The Prime Minister’s Office said their discussion was “comprehensive” and dealt with the “problems in the region”.
According to a statement, Sisi expressed his willingness “to assist efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians”.
Egypt has become increasingly involved in efforts to stabilise the situation in Gaza and bring about a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.