Trump and Netanyahu to Meet in Davos on Thursday, White House Says

'Last chance to change Iran deal,' Netanyahu says ahead of Davos, where he is set to meet with Trump

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel on May 22, 2017.
Mark Israel Salem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday at the economic forum in Davos, the White House said on Tuesday.

The two last met in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. This will be their first meeting since Trump announced the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Before taking off, Netanyahu said he would bring to the gathering the message that "the coming weeks they will have a last opportunity to try and introduce real – not cosmetic – changes in the dangerous nuclear agreement with Iran."

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu and his wife Sara will meet with various world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev.

Before taking off, Netanyahu said he would stress the need for changes to the Iran nuclear deal in his meetings with Merkel and Macron.

"In any case, with or without an agreement, our policy is to prevent the terrorist regime in Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons, which would endanger us, the Middle East and the entire world," he added.

He will also meet with heads of major corporations as well as Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, Swiss President Alain Berset, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

"I will promote the status of Israel as a global technological power," Netanayahu said. "This helps us expand our diplomatic reach, security and economic ties, for the benefit of the Israeli economy, the citizens of Israel and the security of Israel."

Netanyahu also thanked U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who visisted Israel on Monday and Tuesday, saying "it was a great honor to host Pence. He gave exceptional expression to the powerful relationship between Israel and the United States, and we'll always remember his magnificent speech in the Knesset."

Netanyahu's participation in Davos, like most everything else going on there throughout the week, will likely be eclipsed by U.S. President Donald Trump's Friday appearance. 

Trump's 'America first' agenda could easily clash with Davos' theme of 'Creating a Shared Future in Fractured World.' Participants in the forum can experience an exhibit illustrating “a day in the life of a refugee.” Or hear about ways to uphold the Paris climate accord and promote free trade. Or rub elbows with any number of leaders of African countries.

The U.S. government shutdown had cast some doubt on whether U.S. President Trump might actually come — the wider U.S. delegation’s departure was delayed due to the shutdown. But with Congress moving Monday to reopen the government, the White House said that barring some unforeseen snag, the delegation would travel Tuesday and the president later in the week.

Trump's vice president Mike Pence concluded his two-day visit to Israel Tuesday. In language steeped in Biblical references, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence addressed a special session of Knesset on Monday, on the first day of his visit in Israel and announced that the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open by the end of 2019.

In his remarks, Pence said America was committed to forging a "lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians" and called on the Palestinians – who are boycotting his visit – to return to the negotiating table. 

Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital induced a wave of denunciations, warnings and threats from one end of the Middle East to the other. Senior White House staff have not been in touch with Palestinian leadership since before the decision.

Before leaving for Davos Tuesday, Netanyahu expressed his desire to address the Iran nuclear deal, saying "the coming weeks they will have a last opportunity to try and introduce real – not cosmetic – changes in the dangerous nuclear agreement with Iran."