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Netanyahu, Trump discuss diplomatic gesture ahead of Israel elections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to arrange "a dramatic diplomatic gesture" from US President Donald Trump to help him win the upcoming Israeli election, reported Haaretz.

According to the paper, recent weeks have seen "intensive talks" between Netanyahu's advisers and people close to Trump "over a potential statement by the American president, in which he could commit to protecting Israel in the future from any existential threat".

The idea of a presidential statement was reportedly "born out of the broader initiative of creating a 'defence pact' between the United States and Israel", said Haaretz, a pact "under discussion since the 1990s" but never implemented.

While "discussions on the subject have been revived" in recent months, signing such a pact "would require the involvement of the Pentagon and other US government agencies", with negotiations potentially lasting for months.

READ: Netanyahu seeks Trump go-ahead for Israel's West Bank annexation to help win election

The chances of completing such an agreement before the 17 September elections, therefore, are "almost non-existent".

Meanwhile, the pact also has its opponents amongst Israeli military officials both past and present, which could present Netanyahu with a problem.

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Other options apparently being discussed include a "joint announcement about the start of negotiations over a future defence pact". This would "help Netanyahu politically in the short-term and could also help Trump as the president strives to present himself as Israel's greatest supporter."

Another potential "gesture" is "a presidential statement by Trump that the United States under his leadership will help Israel militarily in any case of a future existential threat".

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked in a radio interview if the US would support Israel during a military conflict.

READ: US will act if Iranian tanker tries to deliver oil to Syria says Pompeo

"We're constantly in conversations about that, making sure that we collectively have defence systems capabilities that are appropriate for their needs," he replied.

"I have every confidence this president, who moved our embassy and who made clear Israel's rights in the Golan Heights, will do all that is necessary to ensure that our great partner in Israel will be protected."

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