Praise for ‘true friend in the White House’ after Netanyahu phones Trump

A senior Israeli official has praised the new US President Donald Trump as Israel’s “true friend in the White House”, marking a dramatic shift in relations between the two countries after the bitterness of the Barack Obama years.

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Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli deputy minister of foreign affairs, said that the country was “very happy about the new administration” after a phone call between Mr Trump and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ms Hotovely said: “I think that all the declarations of the Trump administration were showing a deep friendship to Israel. They understand the complexity of the situation in the Middle East, in a world where everything is falling apart around us.”

“When Israel continues being the only democratic regime in the region, they want to keep Israel in its best shape.”

In the “very warm” phone call on Sunday evening, Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu reportedly discussed military, security and intelligence cooperation between the two allies, a statement from Mr Netanyahu’s office said, including the “threat posed by Iran”, which has pledged Israel’s destruction.

Mr Trump said during his election campaign that he would seek to unpick the historic US-Iran deal, in which Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. He has not clarified his position since winning the presidency or taking office.

A separate statement from the White House said that the administration is in the “very early stages” of discussing moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a suggestion which has angered Palestinians, who also claim the city as their capital.

While under the Obama administration US approved the biggest ever military aid package to the Jewish state – some £28 billion ($38 billion) of investment over the next ten years – personal relations between the former president and Netanyahu became increasingly sour over the course of his tenure.

The Trump administration has struck a much more sympathetic tone towards its ally.

The Israeli Prime Minister has been invited to the White House for face-to-face talks in February, in what will be one of Mr Trump’s first meetings with another head of state since becoming Commander in Chief.

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