PM Invites Tillerson to Visit Israel, as They Discuss Regional Issues

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in Washington, Tuesday. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu invited U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to visit Israel at his first opportunity, the prime minister’s office said Wednesday. The invitation came during a meeting between the two overnight Tuesday Israel time, in which PM Netanyahu and Tillerson discussed regional issues, including Iran, the Palestinian issue, Islamism and regional cooperation, the office said.

As the meeting took place, a “high-ranking White House source” told Israeli media that President Trump’s administration does not plan to push Israel on establishing a Palestinian state. President Trump is very interested in getting Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate, and would like to solve the conflict if possible, but “it depends on what the parties want, whether that comes in the form of two states for two people, or in some other manner.”

The two-state solution is a good one, the source said, if it truly leads to a resolution of the conflict. “But a two-state solution that does not bring peace is not a goal anyone would want to achieve,” the source said. “We are not going to dictate the terms of an agreement to either side.”

The comments confirmed a report on Channel Ten that quoted sources in the White House as saying that the two-state solution will not be on the meeting’s agenda – and will merit a mention in passing, if at all. Likely at the top of PM Netanyahu’s agenda will be what to do about Iran, government sources said. Weekend reports said that Netanyahu had several ideas he planned to share with Trump, given the president’s apparent willingness to confront Tehran on its violations of the nuclear treaty signed with the Obama administration, the report said.

On Tuesday, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, attempted to lower the expectations on Israel’s right for positive results emerging from the meeting. Speaking on Army Radio Tuesday, Danon said that “the first meeting between the new president and the prime minister is an important one, of course. But I have been hearing from many people that January 20, the day President Trump took office, or February 16, the day of the meeting, represents the ‘beginning of a new era.’ I am not sure this is the case, and I would suggest to everyone that they put these things into the proper perspective, lest they be disappointed later.”