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Legal Matters

Israel’s Netanyahu To Offer ‘Responsible Policies’ During U.S. Visit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will put forward "responsible policies" when he travels to meet U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran on the agenda.

Netanyahu will leave for Washington on February 13 and is scheduled to meet the president on February 15 for their first meeting since Trump's inauguration.

Netanyahu had often-difficult dealings with Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, and he has expressed hopes of a better relationship with the new president.

During his presidential campaign, Trump expressed strong support for Israel while indicating a tough stand on the Palestinians.

But, since taking office, Trump has pulled back on unqualified support for Netanyahu's policy of establishing more Jewish settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians.

In an interview on February 10, Trump said settlement growth was not "good for peace."

Trump has also backed off a campaign pledge to transfer the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move fiercely opposed by the Palestinians, who regard East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

"For [the past] three weeks, Donald Trump has been speaking differently," said Michael Oren, an Israeli deputy minister. "We must act cautiously."

Netanyahu told his February 12 cabinet meeting that Israel's relationship with the United States "requires a responsible and considered policy, and that is how I intend to act."

"I have navigated Israeli-U.S. relations in a prudent manner, and I will continue to do so now," he said.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett of the far-right Jewish Home Party urged the prime minister to take a hard line.

"Netanyahu, please make it clear to Trump in our name: There will not be a Palestinian state in the heart of our land," he wrote on Twitter. "It will not happen."

Mark Heller of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv told AFP the visit will be a chance for the prime minister to test how far he can go with the new president.

"In Washington, Benjamin Netanyahu will test his room to maneuver [with Trump] on settlements," Heller said.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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