Middle East

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Blesses Netanyahu Ahead of ‘Fateful’ Meeting with Trump

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has departed for his fateful first meeting with Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

But before Netanyahu left, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef blessed him and prayed for the meeting.

“May the Holy One, Blessed be He, be with your words. You are the representative of the entire Jewish nation, and there is no doubt God will aid you,” said Rabbi Yosef.

Netanyahu thanked the rabbi, and vowed that he would do everything in his power to bolster Israel’s security. Many expect that to be easy with Trump.

But a day earlier, Netanyahu presided over a fiery cabinet meeting where some ministers put heavy pressure on him to take advantage of President Trump’s sympathy to renounce the two-state solution and the so-called “Oslo Accords.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook that if Netanyahu and Trump come out of the meeting and mention a commitment to the two-state solution, “it will impact us directly for years to come. It will be an earthquake.”

Like many Israelis, Bennett sees in Trump an opportunity for Israel to wrest itself free from a destructive peace process that has only brought decades of escalated conflict and bloodshed.

Netanyahu tried to chill expectations, insisting that even with a president like Trump, there would be limitations to what Israel could do.

“I understand that there is great excitement in advance of this meeting, driven by various motivations. But I only have one motivation: My utmost consideration is to ensure Israel’s security and strengthen our relationship with the United States as well as the joint interests that stand behind it,” Netanyahu told his ministers.

“To think that there are no limits with Trump is a mistake,” he added. “After eight years of complicated maneuvering in the Obama era, we need to continue to act judiciously during the Trump era.”

Even so, if the meeting ends with either Netanyahu or Trump committing to a Palestinian state, the prime minister will be in for a political firestorm when he gets back to Israel.

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