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Before taking off to his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Netanyahu was asked if Israel is heading for early elections due to political infighting over the conscription of Jewish ultra-Orthodox into the army. The talks also touched on Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, while the White House said Trump had "emphasized his commitment to achieving a lasting peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians".

Trump has vowed to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in mid-May unless the USA and Europe agree on sanctions that would punish Iran for activity not covered by the accord or, in some cases, that would be eventually permitted under its terms.

"I've been here for almost four decades seeking to build the American-Israel alliance".

The day before Israel's first couple left for Washington, police questioned both Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in connection with a burgeoning corruption case.

Welcoming Netanyahu to his Oval Office, Trump said the relationship between the two countries is at its best.

Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December and announced that the United States embassy would move to the city in May, shortly after Israel's 70th anniversary.

Trump upset allies and roiled the Arab world past year by announcing that the USA was moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

A statement from a Netanyahu spokesman dismissed the report, which said Hefetz would give evidence of corruption against Netanyahu and his wife, Sara.

With Netanyahu looking on, Trump said he had rejected a $1 billion plan for a new embassy in favor of the temporary facility, which would cost only $250,000. The Israeli leader also emphasized the two nations' mutual concern about Iran's activities in the region, saying that Tehran "must be stopped". "I think we're as close now as maybe ever before".

Monday's meeting also came amid the continuing USA investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, a probe that may have implications for the president's Mideast peace point man, son-in-law Jared Kushner, who recently lost his top secret security clearance.

Such a visit would risk pouring gasoline on an already enflamed situation and curb the USA claims to be an independent broker in the peace process.


"The Palestinians, I think, are wanting to come back to the table very badly", Trump said.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, thanked Trump for the "historic" recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and compared the move to - for instance - the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the then-British foreign secretary promised the Jews a homeland in the Middle East.

Pressed as to what he meant, given the hard line Palestinians have taken against any USA -brokered peace effort, Trump sounded matter-of-fact.

"This has nothing to do with the American political scene", Netanyahu said, in the briefing for Israeli and Jewish media reporters.

Israel is increasingly anxious that Trump is backsliding on a pledge to "fix" or dismantle the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Labeled Case 4000 by the police, it is said to involve the granting of regulatory benefits worth millions of dollars to Israeli telecommunications giant Bezeq in return for positive news coverage for the Netanyahu family on the Walla news website.

Legally and politically, Netanyahu finds himself in a far more precarious position than Trump.

He also said that he and Trump discussed the Iranian threat in Syria, where Iran is an ally of the Assad regime in that country's civil war.

All right, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is here in Washington today.

Netanyahu arrived in the United States over the weekend as Washington was gearing up for the annual conference of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby.

"We're never going to put up with bullying".

At the same time, the meeting comes just after the United States announced it will open its embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel's 70th anniversary celebrations.


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