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Trump-Netanyahu meeting is chance to project common front vs Iran

US President Donald Trump (L), Jared Kushner (C), US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Flickr]
US President Donald Trump (L), Jared Kushner (C), US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Flickr]

US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold talks on Monday that offer a chance to project a common front against Iran but are expected to do little to advance seemingly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects, reports Reuters.

Mired in corruption investigations threatening his political survival, Netanyahu was confronted, only hours before the White House meeting, by news back home that a former spokesman had turned state’s witness in one of the probes. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.

Netanyahu's corruption scandal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Netanyahu’s corruption scandal – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

US and Israeli officials said the agenda of Netanyahu’s talks with Trump would be topped by the president’s push to change or scrap Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and concerns over Tehran’s foothold in Syria.

Both leaders have railed against the deal, citing its limited duration and the fact it does not cover Iran’s ballistic missile program or its support for anti-Israel militants in the region.

Trump has threatened to quit the agreement unless European allies help “fix” it with a follow-up accord. An Israeli official said Netanyahu and Trump were likely to talk about how to overcome European resistance on the matter.

Israel has accused Tehran of seeking a permanent military presence in Syria, where Iranian-backed forces support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war.

Read: Israel will never go to war with Syria or Iran

Netanyahu has cautioned that Israel could act against Iran itself after an Iranian drone flew into Israel last month and an Israeli warplane was downed while bombing air defences in Syria. He accuses Iran of planning to build precision-guided missile factories in Lebanon, amid tensions on that border.

“We want to know and we must know, what the US position will be if we do enter into some wider confrontation with Iran,” Michael Oren, a deputy Israeli cabinet minister and former ambassador to Washington, said on Israel’s Channel 13 TV.

The Trump administration has no plans to use Netanyahu’s visit to roll out peace proposals Kushner’s team is crafting, a second U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We are as committed to peace as ever,” the official said. “We will release the plan when it is done and the time is right.”

Read: US envoy says Trump’s Middle East peace plan almost ready

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