Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Sunday pledged to recognize an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of Israel during an 80-minute meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York.
The issue of Israel’s capital has been a contentious one in U.S.-Israeli relations since the Palestinian Authority also wants control of the Old City. The main U.S. Embassy in Israel is in Tel Aviv.
Trump told the Israeli leader the United States will “finally accept the longstanding congressional mandate to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the state of Israel,” his campaign said after the meeting, which was closed to the press.
The Jerusalem Post also quoted the press release as saying the two men discussed Israel’s security fence, which Trump sees as a model for the wall he wants to build along the U.S.-Mexico border to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants. They also discussed the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel strongly opposed, and the threat posed by the Islamic State group and other terrorists.
Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister thanked Trump for his friendship. He also was to meet with Democrat Hillary Clinton before flying home. Netanyahu was in New York for last week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting.
Netanyahu was expected to ask both candidates to oppose any U.N.-imposed settlement on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of blocking efforts to achieve a two-state solution.
Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama last week.
Trump and Netanyahu met in Trump’s Manhattan office, i24 news reported.
Netanyahu has kept a low profile during this election cycle. During the 2012 campaign he was seen as favoring Republican Mitt Romney over incumbent Democrat Obama. Trump had planned a trip to Israel in December but called it off when Netanyahu joined the chorus repudiating Trump’s call to prevent Muslims from entering the United States.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi also met separately with both candidates. It was Trump’s first meeting with a Muslim leader.