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The reason Trump’s regional visit raised Israeli concerns

Contrary to public impression, Israeli political and security establishments were actually worried over US President Donald Trump’s regional visit, especially over his positive impressions of the Saudi leadership.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania, board upon their departure on Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RTX377QN
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Jerusalem, in general, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) personnel, in particular, sighed in relief after Air Force One took off from Ben Gurion Airport on May 23. According to a protocol department official, the organizational aspects of US President Donald Trump’s visit were a nightmare. The MFA was informed only minutes before landing that the president was ready to shake the hands of Israeli Cabinet ministers. Other last-minute changes were communicated by the Americans almost every hour. But protocol apart, Trump left behind an Israeli Foreign Ministry concerned first and foremost over issues of content. This sentiment of concern was shared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, although he kept a smiling poker face until the very end of the visit.

According to a senior Israeli MFA official who took part in some of the meetings, the statements Trump and his close entourage made in private were less encouraging than the president’s public statements.

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