By JEREMY COHENUSByJEREMYS COHENSALOT-AFP/Getty ImagesIsrael’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Sunday offered to meet with US President Donald Trump, in a sign that the two sides are getting closer to a final deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Netanyahu said in a speech at the Knesset that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved, but added that Trump is willing to meet Israeli leaders who are opposed to the deal he has proposed.
“If there are Israelis who believe that it is in Israel’s interests that the deal is not implemented, I am willing to work with them,” Netanyahu said.
“But if it is for the United States to make that decision, then it will be a decision that is made by the American people, and that is something I am not willing to accept.”
Netanyahu and Trump spoke at a closed-door meeting in Washington in early December, where Trump agreed to delay the Iran nuclear deal.
The White House said in January that it had “made progress” toward reaching a deal on Iran, but that the sides were still far apart on some key issues, including whether Iran should get to keep its nuclear enrichment program and if Israel would be given more latitude in approving military aid to Iran.
Trump, who has repeatedly voiced skepticism about Iran’s intentions and has said the country should not be trusted with nuclear weapons, was expected to sign a new sanctions bill, which is expected to be passed by the Senate on Monday.
Trump also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Sunday, where the two discussed Iran’s sanctions on Jerusalem and the fate of its embassy in the occupied West Bank, the White Star Line reported.
The move came days after Trump told The Wall Street Journal he was not planning to meet Netanyahu to discuss Iran at a later date.
The two leaders have been close in recent weeks, and the White, the Wall Street report said, “had hoped to finalize a deal before Trump leaves office.”
Netanyahus spokesman Mark Regev told the newspaper the meeting was not aimed at achieving a deal, but rather was “a conversation about the future of the relationship.”
“We have talked about the importance of the Middle East peace process,” Regef said.