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Trump tells Netanyahu he 'may attend' Jerusalem embassy opening

Trump is hosting the Israeli prime minister at the White House. [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 March, 2018

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US President Donald Trump is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House and said he might attend the unveiling of a controversial new embassy in Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump has said he might attend the opening of the country's new embassy in Jerusalem, during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House.

Trump warmly welcomed the embattled prime minister to the White House on Monday, claiming US-Israel ties had "never been better". 

He also floated the idea of a May trip to visit Netanyahu during the planned opening of the controversial new US embassy in Jerusalem, which also coincides with the anniversary of Israel's founding.

The two leaders were also expected to discuss efforts to curb Iran's regional influence.

The White House meeting, held during Netanyahu's visit to the annual conference of the influential lobby group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

It will provide a boost for the right-wing Israeli leader as scandals and political turmoil brew at home.

Trump in December broke with decades of policy in Washington by officially recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and pledging to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the divided city.

The White House later said it plans to open its new facility in Jerusalem on 14 May, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel's creation.

While Trump's plan to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem this year has brought the two leaders closer together, it has infuriated the Palestinian leadership and was condemned by 128 states in a United Nations General Assembly vote in December. 

The issue has also caused a widening rift in US public opinion. A survey in January by the Pew Research Center showed that 79 percent of Republicans were more sympathetic towards Israel than the Palestinians, against just 27 percent among Democrats.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

There had long been international consensus that the city's status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

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