Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner will accompany president on Israel trip

Israel and the United States held preliminary talks about a possible visit by President Donald Trump to Jerusalem, an Israeli official said.

A delegation of some 25 USA officials landed in Israel on Thursday to start planning what is due to be the president's first trip overseas since entering the White House.

The comment came on the same day that Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., suggested Trump may announce the relocation of the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when he visits Israel in late May, the Times of Israel reported.

The news comes a day after Trump said in an interview that he wanted to see a peace deal.

"He's in a position where he's either going to follow his campaign promise or he's actually going to have to sign this waiver, and I just think knowing the president, he has been a man of his word", DeSantis told the Times of Israel.

Israel views all of Jerusalem as its "eternal and indivisible capital", but the Palestinians also want a capital there.

Saeb Erekat, the PLO's chief negotiator, condemned the plans, saying they were aimed at "burying the two-state solution" and a "deliberate sabotage" of efforts to restart peace talks.

"All settlements in occupied Palestine are illegal under worldwide law", he said in a statement.

Trump is seeking "a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel", the president's spokesman, Sean Spicer, said last week in confirming Abbas' visit.

The Yedioth Ahronoth also reported that 25 United States officials were scheduled to arrive in Israel on Thursday to begin preparation for Trump's trip. Shortly after Trump took office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lifted restrictions on settlement construction.

The Palestinians are responding harshly to Israel's plans to expand building in Jerusalem. But the papers believe that Trump will likely hold back on moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a politically explosive move that he promised during the campaign.

Trump's visit could come immediately before Jerusalem Day on May 24, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the city.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under worldwide law as they are built on the occupied territories.

On Monday morning, a 20-year-old female soldier was wounded in a suspected stabbing attack at the Qalandia checkpoint, north of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

The text of an upcoming resolution would reportedly mark the first time UNESCO will officially reject Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.

  • Jon Douglas