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President Trump Makes Historic Visit To Old City Of Jerusalem


President Trump landed in Israel today for what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a truly historic visit. Trump is the first president to travel to Jerusalem on his first trip abroad. There were a few other firsts as part of this as well as some controversies. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.


DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Helicopters buzzed above Jerusalem, and some 10,000 Israeli security officers were deployed for Trump's visit. In a joint appearance, Trump and Netanyahu praised each other effusively. The Obama administration irritated Netanyahu on several issues, including settlement construction in areas that are subject to negotiation with the Palestinians. Netanyahu highlighted the change.


PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: It won't be simple, but for the first time in many years and, Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime, I see a real hope for change.

ESTRIN: Most observers didn't expect Trump to bring a peace plan with him now to lay on the table, something a U.S. official confirmed to NPR. Trump repeated his belief that there is a real opportunity to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, what he calls the ultimate deal.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's not easy. I've heard it's one of the toughest deals of all. But I have a feeling that we're going to get there eventually, I hope.

ESTRIN: Trump visited religious sites in Jerusalem's old city, becoming the first sitting president to visit the Western Wall revered by Jews. But there were some uncomfortable moments surrounding the trip. U.S. officials declined a request for Netanyahu to accompany Trump at the Western Wall. Israel captured the Western Wall area 50 years ago in an area of the city that's still disputed, and the U.S. didn't want to be seen as endorsing Israeli sovereignty there.

Then there's the controversy of Trump reportedly sharing Israeli intelligence with the Russian foreign minister. Trump told reporters today he didn't say the word Israel to the Russians. Around the old city, people had different takes on Trump's visit.


ESTRIN: Near the Western Wall today, an Israeli restaurant owner and his manager argued whether Trump will be good for Israel. This is the restaurant owner, Manuel Ozel.

MANUEL OZEL: I want him to give us a green light to do whatever we think - our government will think to do.

ESTRIN: And so far, do you think he's given that green light?

OZEL: No, but he didn't give us a red line also. So we're stuck in the middle.

ESTRIN: Then Israeli Amir Habshush replied that some Israelis have unrealistic expectations about Trump.

AMIR HABSHUSH: He said that he would support, and he did - he will do and that he loves Israel, and he will help us. Stop talking. Either do, or don't talk.

ESTRIN: I also met Heyam Salameh, a Palestinian woman who lives near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. She said she's read Trump's book "How To Get Rich" and has been impressed by his success.

HEYAM SALAMEH: When there is a will, there is a way. He wanted to be the president, and he became a president.

ESTRIN: But being a businessman doesn't make you a peacemaker, she said.

SALAMEH: Bill Clinton came. Obama came. Nothing was done. And he will do as his previous presidents did. They did nothing. He'll do nothing.

ESTRIN: Tomorrow Trump gets a chance to convince her otherwise. He'll meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and given an address in Jerusalem. And he'll probably talk about the ultimate peace deal he wants to achieve. Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Jerusalem. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.