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President Trump Arrives In Israel In Search Of 'Ultimate Deal.' Aired 5:30-6a ET
Aired May 22, 2017 - 05:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:30:00] JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And he's not trying to solve anything on this trip, he's trying to keep it going, OK, and the longer they can keep it going the greater the chance something will shake out and they'll figure it out on the way, and that's really how they're doing it. It's sort of an ad hoc process. It's a president and his team who don't believe that there are obstacles that they can't overcome.
Now that's, you know, in one way inspiring and in another way naive and, you know, if it works, then great. I don't think there's anyone in the world who doesn't want to see -- well, maybe not everyone, but most people don't want to see progress and peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. President Trump seems to genuinely believe that he has some sort of special ability.
You know, the problem that most analysts look at is that he doesn't seem to have any plan or any strategy to get there, and when you ask White House officials about it they always say the same thing. They say well, listen, we have to try -- how can you not try -- and that is an appealing sort of idea. It's an idea that's not unlike an idea that we heard from President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who pursued a very sort of similar ideal. But the details matter and what we haven't sort of seen is how do they plan to get from "A" to "B" and that's probably because they don't want to constrain themselves. They don't want to say --
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
ROGIN: -- this is what we're doing and then if that doesn't work they're out of options.
ROMANS: Josh, I wanted to ask you quick -- we're watching the stairs be pulled -- being pulled over there to Air Force One. What is the -- what is the influence, do you think, on this leg of the trip from Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and adviser to this president? A lot of folks on the first leg -- the Saudi Arabia trip -- they said they saw his fingerprints all over so much of that leg of the trip with all of those deals being announced and the deliverables there.
ROGIN: I think his influence really can't be overstated, you know. I've met with White House officials about this trip before they left. It's true that Jared Kushner was the lead negotiator on the arms deals. It's also true that he is the lead official dealing with this Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. Now, a lot of the legwork has been done by his -- Jared Kushner's staffer, a lawyer named Jason Greenblatt. He's made several trips to the region and met with the leaders there, and set the stage for a lot of this. So it's not as if Jared Kushner is doing every call and taking every meeting, but he's overseeing this. He's been delegated this.
Now, that, for a large -- in a large way, was the result of the Trump White House having very few people to rely on in its early days, you know. What I'm told by White House officials is that -- is that recently Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been brought into this process and now there is a more robust interagency structure that is dealing with these issues in a more conventional policy kind of way. But that's very recent, you know, and that process hasn't really meshed necessarily with the preparations for this trip as much as you would think.
So, Jared Kushner's been given a huge amount of responsibility over these issues and has really -- the president has really depended on him to not only set the broad frame but also to have his team set up each of these stops in a way that can sort of produce not only photo ops but as many deliverables as possible.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: We are, again, if you're just joining us -- 5:33 Eastern Time, just past 12:30 p.m. there in Tel Aviv -- awaiting the arrival of President Trump, his staff, Melania, as well. And you see president -- the president there and the foreign -- the ambassador. So this is a massive meeting ahead of a speech, of a trip to Jerusalem, a visit to the Western Wall. And again, the Israeli president, the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu all awaiting Mr. Trump.
Josh, if you could, give us some of the tensions ahead of this visit regarding the Embassy move, regarding the intelligence sharing. What tensions might exist between U.S. and Israeli officials ahead of President Trump's arrival?
ROGIN: Right. It's a great question because what I keep hearing from Israeli officials and those who speak with Israeli officials and, indeed, some of the -- a big portion of the pro-Israel community in Washington is that they don't think that President Trump is living up to the positions that he promised them during the campaign, right. What he promised was that the U.S. and Israel would be, as Mao Zedong would put it, as close as lips and teeth -- no daylight between them. That whatever Israel would want, Israel would get, OK?
And immediately after the election all of that changed in a big way, right, and you pointed out a couple of the things. One is the promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which really isn't necessarily an Israelipriority, by the way. It's always been more of an American issue than an Israeli issue but the Israelis, nevertheless, were good with that, but then that changed.
[05:35:10] But the broader issue here is that the Israelis don't want to be pushed into a peace process that they don't believe has a chance of succeeding and that will ultimately result in the United States putting pressure on them throughout the length of that peace process. That's what happens, right? Once you get on the road to one of these things both sides are pressured to make concessions. Now, for President Abbas and the Palestinians that's a whole different
calculation. President Abbas is bolstered internally by his presence in these sort of international fora by his elevation to standing alongside the Israel prime minister.
ROGIN: That's good for Abbas. That makes him stronger, arguably, internally. For Bibi Netanyahu it's exactly the opposite calculation, right? His base -- the people who are in his cabinet and also the people who are putting pressure on him from his right flank, they don't want him to do any of this stuff, OK, and every moment that he spends making concession is a moment that he's vulnerable to them.
ROGIN: And there's not a lot of faith, frankly, inside the Netanyahu administration that this peace process is going to amount to anything --
ROMANS: So --
ROGIN: -- you know, and if it's going to be a vanity project for President Trump they don't want to pay the price.
ROMANS: We're watching --
ROMANS: -- as we're awaiting the arrival of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, and his entourage to Tel Aviv, the second leg of his week-long trip, a trip that has been framed as uniting and listening to and connecting the three major religions.
I want to bring in Nic Robertson. He is in Riyadh. He's on the first leg of that trip where the president has departed from Riyadh straight to Tel Aviv here. Hi there, Nic. We know that the optics here are really important. It was a successful -- pretty successful first leg of this trip and now the Israelis are literally rolling out the red carpet for this president. There are optics first and then there's substance. What do you expect here?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, he seems to be coming off a successful first leg here but, of course, the difficulty of speaking to individual audiences, which is what he did here -- his big speech here -- was absolutely tailored for the Arab- Muslim audience is how is that going to play on the next leg? And we've heard some pushback from Israeli officials that the whole defense deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia, $109 billion worth of it, is counterproductive in their eyes to regional security.
I think for the -- potentially, the difficulty here and we could elements of it in Saudi Arabia that President Trump is perhaps shaping the arena for trying to do something on Israeli-Palestinian peace because the two people that spoke after him and the King -- there was King Abdullah of Jordan, a significant player in Israeli-Palestinian peace, and President Sisi of Egypt, again, a key player -- borders Israel -- a key player in Israeli-Palestinian peace.
So, you could see perhaps the narrative being given here and the floor being given to those who can help President Trump further down the road but the problem comes, as your guest was saying there, is when concessions have to be made, and the difficult thing that Donald Trump is going to have here is the credibility. We've seen him reverse his message on Muslims -- we've seen him do that here. We've seen him reverse it NATO. That will be another later visit on his trip. We've seen him reverse it, at least for now, on the positioning of the U.S. Embassy, not moving it to Jerusalem and that's what negotiations need.
Both parties need somebody that they can trust and believe in, that they believe can support them. That when they give a concession that interlocutor will make the other side give a concession. And key to that is the word "trust" and key to that is knowing that what someone says is their word, and that's the thing that Donald Trump is going to have to engender in this region and that take times, so two days in Riyadh is not going to deliver that. It's an aspiration. His time in Jerusalem visiting the West Bank, it's an aspiration. He can begin to (audio gap) but it's going to take him and his advisers will know this.
ROMANS: Nic, we're watching --
ROBERTSON: It's a lot more than one visit, one speech.
ROMANS: Nic, we're watching pictures of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. They are already there on the tarmac so they're coming over to where this opening ceremony is going to be. We've been talking a lot about Jared Kushner's influence as an adviser to his father on this -- his father-in-law and also his boss. And the history, Nic, of this moment. There's the president and there's Melania Trump. The history of this moment -- is this, I'm told that this is the president's first trip to Israel. And also the history of, Nic, the president coming from Riyadh, these two countries that don't have diplomatic relations. That's historic and symbolic too, isn't it?
[05:40:16] ROBERTSON: It is. I mean, I think it's very symbolic and telling that Donald Trump is doing things that previous presidents haven't done, which is, you know, what's been turned a day -- the first daylight flight. Diplomats in the region -- U.S. diplomats in the past occasionally have flown, you know, in small private charter jets when they've been working on peace initiatives between Israel and Saudi Arabia. That goes below the radar. No one knows about it, it's never talked about.
This is a big deal that President Trump has flown direct from Riyadh to Israel. It is a first and it is significant because it shows he's different. This is what the Arabs believe -- that he is courageous. That because he acts outside the box he can make a difference where other leaders, you know, are contained and constrained by advisers --
ROBERTSON: -- and by -- and by past history. The expectation is that reality will ultimately catch up with Donald Trump. There are constraints, there are difficulties.
ROBERTSON: It's not a quick fix.
BRIGGS: All right. We saw the president -- President Trump shake hands with Israeli President Rivlin with the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife. A very friendly embrace, indeed, you notice there between President Trump and Bibi Netanyahu. Let's just listen in on what's happening as Mr. Trump and Melania meet with Israeli officials there on the red carpet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, good to see you again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any preference? Let's go, honey -- let's go. Let's you and I walk up here.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: They have all this protocol. We never know what it is.
TRUMP: What is the protocol? Do you have any idea?
NETANYAHU: Who knows? (INAUDIBLE). I think they'll just tell us where to stand. Mr. Trump here, OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bibi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language spoken).
(U.S. and Israel National Anthems playing)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language spoken).
ROMANS: The arrival ceremony for the president. President Trump, Melania Trump arriving there in Tel Aviv, his first trip to Israel, we're told. A historic flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Tel Aviv, really symbolic as well. We expect this will be a two-day trip and he's got a lot in the next two days.
BRIGGS: Yes, he does. He will go to Jerusalem. You can expect more of this grand pageantry as part of this nine-day trip abroad for the president. President Trump there with President Rivlin of Israel and Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister. We'll listen in a little bit more on the sights and sounds there on the red carpet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language spoken).
TRUMP: Thank you.
[05:50:20] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please be seated. (Foreign language spoken).
The President of the state of Israeli, Reuven "Ruvi" Rivlin, will deliver his welcome remarks.
REUVEN RIVLIN, PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL: Mr. President and the first lady, Mr. Prime Minister and his wife, Sara, distinguished guests, dear friends, welcome to Israel. It is a great pleasure to have you here. Your visit is a symbol of the unbreakable bond between Israel and America. You are the president of Israel's greatest, most important era. You are a true friend of Israel and of the Jewish people. Mr. President, the world needs a strong United States. The Middle East needs a strong United States. Israel needs a strong United States. And may I say the United States also needs a strong Israel.
In the Middle East, an area that suffers from terrorism and madness, the partnership between the United States and Israel shines like a beacon of liberty and progress. The bond between us is bond between states but also between people. We share common values as we share the hope for peace. The people of Israel are excited by your arrival and have great expectation from this visit. We thank you for your commitment to Israel's ability to face the threats of today and of tomorrow.
Mr. President, today I will have the honor to host you in Jerusalem. We are honored to have you here with us as we mark 50 years of Jerusalem Day -- Yom Yerushalayim, as we say in Hebrew. It makes us very happy to know that Israel's most important ally recognizes the significance of Jerusalem to the Jewish people all around the world. Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish people as it has for 3,000 years.
Mr. President, you come here to Israel from Saudi Arabia. You will be at the Western Wall and visit the Holy Church, and then you are going to the Vatican. In just one journey you will visit the three holiest places for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. We each have different beliefs but we all worship the same God. We can work together towards a better future. We shall continue to do so together, Mr. President. (Foreign language spoken). Welcome to Israel. God bless you. God bless you, Mr. President. God bless you, first lady. God bless America. God bless Israel. (Applause).
[05:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language spoken). Ladies and gentlemen, the prime minister of the state of Israel, prime minister of foreign affairs, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, will deliver his welcome remarks.
NETANYAHU: President Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, President Trump, madam first lady -- Donald, Melania, welcome -- a very warm welcome to Israel. (Applause). Your visit here, Mr. President, is truly historic. Never before has the first foreign trip of a President of the United States included a visit to Israel. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause). Thank you for this powerful expression of your friendship to Israel.
Mr. President, yesterday, in Saudi Arabia, you delivered a forceful speech of clarity and conviction. You called on all nations to drive out terrorists and extremists. You called for the forces of civilization to confront the forces of barbarism. Mr. President, for 69 years, Israel has been doing precisely that. We've manned the front lines of civilization, we've fought terrorism, and we've built a modern, vibrant, democratic Jewish state. In doing so, Mr. President, we've protected all faiths -- Muslims, Christians, everyone. Throughout the Middle East, Christian communities are decimated, minorities persecuted, but here in Israel we're proud to have a growing and thriving Christian community and we guarantee the rights of all.
Mr. President, Israel also shares the commitment to peace that you expressed yesterday. We've already made peace with Egypt and with Jordan, and Israel's hand is extended to peace -- in peace to all our neighbors, including the Palestinians. The peace we seek is a genuine and durable one in which the Jewish state is recognized. Security remains in Israel's hands and the conflict ends once and for all. Mr. President, you just flew from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. I hope that one day an Israel prime minister will be able to fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh.
May your first trip to our region prove to be a historic milestone on the path towards reconciliation and peace. I look forward to working with you in the years ahead, Mr. President, to advance security, prosperity, and peace. I'm confident that under your leadership the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States will become ever greater, ever stronger. Donaldand Melania, the entire U.S. delegation, on behalf of the government and the people of Israel we welcome you to the state of Israel. May God bless you, Mr. President, may God bless Israel, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Foreign language spoken). Ladies and gentlemen, the honorable Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America.
TRUMP: Thank you and shalom. It is wonderful to be here in Israel. President Rivlin, Mrs. Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mrs. Netanyahu, thank you very much.