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Pool #7
Annie Karni • POLITICO
May 22, 2017: 02:41 PM

President Trump's first stop in Jerusalem was at the residence of the Israeli president, for a bilat with President Rivlin.

The two leaders sat in yellow, high-backed chairs in a smallish room off of the main, public atrium (currently set up for a post-meeting appearance in front of the press by the two leaders), with a small wooden side table between them, and the flags representing their countries on display behind them.

At the top of the meeting, POTUS made his most extensive, unscripted comments since the beginning of his trip three days ago. He sounded like the same, relaxed Trump who likes to chat during pool sprays at the White House.

"No wonder you've been doing so well, you've been doing it for so long," he told Rivlin, pointing to the aides seated along the side of the room and joking he should "give you most of the credit."

"Likewise," he said, "I have some talented people, but in particular, Jason, you love Israel so much, that you left a very, very, very substantial job to be able to help on a peace treaty, you would like to see that, wouldn't you." He was referring to Jason Greenblatt, who for the past two decades has worked as one of the top negotiators at the Trump Organization.

"David Friedman, likewise, one of the most successful lawyers....[inaudible]," he said, complimenting his ambassador to Israel on leaving behind a big job for his posting here in Jerusalem.

He said it's on Greenblatt and Friedman to negotiate peace. "If not, you'll be blamed because I just put it on record," Trump joked. People in the room chuckled.

"My staff has been fantastic," he said, giving a passing shout to "Rex."

"We just got back from the Middle East, back from Saudi Arabia....we were treated incredibly well, with a good feeling toward Israel....what's happened with Iran has brought many of the other parts of the Middle East toward Israel, and you could say that if there's a benefit, that would be the benefit. I've seen such a different feeling toward Israel from countries that, as you know, were not feeling so well about Israel not so long ago. It's brought a lot of folks together, and I think you've seen it, and you've even mentioned it on many occasions. That is a real positive."

Rivlin chimed in to agree. "Every challenge creates opportunity," he said.

Trump picked up the refrain. "It is a challenge and an opportunity. You have a great opportunity." He said that people have had "enough of the bloodshed and the killing and I think you can see it's starting to happen. What we did over the weekend -- they say there's never been anything like this ever before. It was really a coming together....we expect to have some very interesting developments."

Pool was ushered out of the room for the rest of the meeting. We are now waiting with a lot of local, Israeli press, for the two leaders to make statements at the conclusion of the meeting.

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