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Israel’s PM to Meet Trump 3 Weeks Before Election

JERUSALEM, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump this week in Washington. The meeting comes as Netanyahu's Likud party is lagging in opinion polls ahead of elections next month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, former chief of staff, Benny Gantz are speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting this week in Washington.

But only Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with President Donald Trump and attend a state dinner at the White House.

Trump announced a change in American policy on the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in 1967 and later annexed. Trump tweeted last week that the United States recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the territory, and later explained in the move in an interview with Fox News Business. He compared it to his decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"I was inundated with calls from the leaders. Mostly the leaders saying, 'Please do not do it'. I did it. It has been done and it is fine. Golan Heights is the same thing ... This is sovereignty. This is security, regional security, so it is not about Netanyahu's re-election. No, I would not know about that," said Trump.

Netanyahu is facing a series of corruption allegations, and the latest opinion polls show the new Blue and White Party headed by Gant edging past Netanyahu's Likud.

The Israeli prime minister has stressed his close relationship with Trump, and he lauded close U.S.-Israel ties in a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week.

"Our alliance in recent years has never been stronger," he said. "It is an unbreakable bond. It is based on shared values of liberty and democracy and shared interest to fight the enemies of democracy, the enemies of our way of life, the terrorists that prowl our airspace and our countries, and working together we have been able to achieve an enormous amount."

Netanyahu also thanked the United States for walking away from what he called the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.

Source: Voice of America

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