Trump meets Netanyahu: When is the US-Israel summit and why is it important?

Trump and Netanyahu meet and shake hands at Trump Tower in September 2016
Trump and Netanyahu meet and shake hands at Trump Tower in September 2016

Donald Trump is meeting Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time as US President this week.

It comes after an increasingly frosty eight years between America and Israel, during which the construction of settlements in Palestinian territories (considered illegal by the UN security council) drove a wedge between Obama and Netanyahu.

But this all looks set to change with President Trump, who is much more ideologically in line with his Israeli counterpart. In January the Netanyahu praised Trump’s plans for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The meeting should be very revealing about how the two countries will get along over the next four years. So here is all you need to know about it:

Why is it important?

As one of America’s closest allies, there will be a lot of attention on how the meeting plays out. There have been many signs the Trump administration is more willing to support the Israeli government’s controversial foreign policies compared to Obama.

During the campaign, it looked like Trump's White House would support Israeli settlements, and said they'd rip up the Iran Deal (which Israel hates). Since Trump's win, his team has also signalled they want to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Critics have claimed that this will end any hope for a two-state solution.

This doesn’t mean we're set for a guaranteed Bibi-Trump lovefest however. Since his inauguration, Trump has spoken out against new Israeli settlements, saying they don’t help the peace process. There are also doubts he will scrap the Iran Deal, and he has put the embassy plans on hold, saying “we will see what happens”.

When are they meeting? And for how long?

​Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday 14 Febraury, and will meet Trump at the White House on Wednesday. His trip will be three days long, and as well as Trump, he will meet with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and other leading officials.

When is the press conference?

An exact time hasn't been set for the press conference, but it will take place on Wednesday. If the times of May and Trudeau's conferences are anything to go by, it will take place around lunchtime in Washington, between midday and 2pm. This means the UK can tune in around 5-7pm. Check back here soon for the exact time when it is confirmed.

How can I watch it?

You can livestream the full press conference on the C-Span website (it will appear on their schedule once the time is confirmed), or flick your TV to the closest 24-hour news channel.

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