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EARLY START

President Trump Visits Israel; Israeli Jitters As Trump Arrives; Trump Calls On Muslim Nations To Fight Terrorism. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired May 22, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:00]

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump on his way to Israel with a focus on peace in the Middle East. We're live in Jerusalem with how Trump will be received following a series of controversies ahead of the visit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Drive out the terrorists and drive out the extremists. Drive them out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president kicked off his trip in Saudi Arabia with a call to Muslim nations to share the burden in the war on terror. More on what the president said in a sharp pivot from his campaign rhetoric.

EARLY START's full team coverage from the Middle East and Washington starts right now. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Great to have reporters live for us around the world. It is Monday, May 22nd. It's 5:00 a.m. in the east. Right now President Trump on his way to Israel after beginning his first foreign trip in office in Saudi Arabia. That stop dominated by a speech that broke sharply with his past rhetoric on Islam.

The president called for cooperation from Muslim nations asking them to drive out terrorists and share the burden in the fight against terror. More on that speech in a moment.

ROMANS: So, today the president shifts focus to another key mission of this week-long trip, making progress on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He has said he wants to make what he calls the ultimate deal for peace.

He'll be meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and he'll make a historic stop at the western wall. Our coverage of the president's trip begins with CNN's Sara Murray. She is live in Jerusalem where the president is in the air. He is on the way. Good morning, Sara. SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, that's right. There will be a lot of pomp and circumstance today as well as some private meetings as the president tries to further his ultimate goal of striking a Mideast peace agreement, but he begins by landing at the airport and will have an arrival ceremony.

After that, President Trump will meet with Israeli President Rivlin. This afternoon he is visiting two very holy sites to separate religions. He'll be visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is one of the holiest sites for Christians.

He'll also make a historic visit to the western wall. He is the first sitting American president to do that. Of course, this is the holiest site for those of the Jewish faith to pray.

Now, later this evening he'll be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and after that, President Trump will be joined by his wife, First Lady Melania Trump. Bibi Netanyahu will be joined by his wife and they will all dine together.

Now, as you pointed out, what the president has made clear is he wants to strike an ultimate deal. He wants to get a Mideast peace agreement while he is president.

To that end, tomorrow he is expected to meet with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. Now, analysts don't believe this trip will hold any major breakthrough for a Mideast peace agreement.

But it will be very interesting to see what the president says publicly after his various meetings about how he sees the potential for this agreement shaping up under his presidency.

ROMANS: You know, certainly, Sara, many are hoping for a reset that this trip is resetting sort of the narrative here, the headaches at home. Is this trip so far serving as a break from his problems in Washington or does it remain a focus there?

MURRAY: I think his advisers certainly hope that this will be a break, a way for him to right the ship and notch at least a couple small victories or just scandal-free days before he returns to the United States.

Now, obviously, his problems at home are not going away. The Russia investigation continues and to that end, we saw two of the president's top advisers, Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, as well as Steve Bannon drop off the foreign trip after Saudi Arabia.

They're headed home to do a little bit of strategic planning and they hope to reset the narrative by the time the president returns to the United States. We know he has some big decisions looming as well as who he'll pick to be the next FBI director.

And whether this president is going to hire outside legal counsel to represent him in the Russia investigation. So, this may be a brief respite, but certainly, those broader issues are not going to disappear anytime soon. ROMANS: All right, Sara Murray for us. Beautiful live shot there, Sara. Big day ahead for you. Thank you so much.

BRIGGS: All right, President Trump not even on the ground in Israel yet and already there have been a few hitches. Among them, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordering his government ministers to attend President Trump's arrival ceremony after several said they planned to skip it.

So, what are Israeli officials thinking as this visit begins? For the latest, let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann, live for us in Jerusalem. Good morning to you, Oren. A number of issues, including the western wall, the embassy move, and of course, the order there from Netanyahu. Good morning to you.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave. This should have been an easy trip. It's a Republican president with a Republican Senate and Congress, meeting a conservative prime minister. This should be as easy as it gets.

And yet, all of the issues and misunderstandings and worse that you've been talking about cloud this meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump.

[05:05:01]The latest is that Netanyahu had to order his ministers to attend the arrival ceremony when Trump lands here in Tel Aviv, here in Israel, and that's because many of the ministers when they realized they wouldn't get a chance to shake Trump's hand, wouldn't get that photo op, decided, why go?

Well, Netanyahu made it clear they will be there, that coming down as an order. That's on the Israeli side. There have been many more on the American side, including as you mentioned, confusion as to where the White House and where the Trump administration places the western wall.

Is it in Israel? Is it in the west bank? There's also the issue over the embassy, and that was only clarified a few days ago by an administration official who said Trump won't move the embassy for now but wouldn't rule out moving it later.

Then perhaps the biggest misunderstanding, or perhaps worse, before this is the alleged Trump leaking of Israeli intel to the Russians. All of that hangs over this and yet, it should be an easy meeting.

I've spoken to a few Israeli officials who say if it goes by the script, if he says the right statements, takes the right photos and shakes the right hands, it should be an easy trip, but this is a spontaneous president who can change that script quickly.

It's also become clear at this point that Trump has asked for steps between the Israelis and between the Palestinians on what steps they're willing to take towards each other to try to move towards a peace process.

The Israelis have said they'll open one of the border crossings between the West Bank and Jordan longer, they'll invest some in industrial areas in the West Bank, and they'll allow Palestinians to build in area "c," which is areas of Israeli governance in the West Bank.

So, those are the steps the Israelis are taking. Not quite concessions. That's too strong a word here, but economic incentives toward the Palestinians -- Dave.

BRIGGS: Pivotal trip. Oren Liebermann live for us, thank you.

ROMANS: The president's visit to Israel follows a mostly successful stop in Saudi Arabia, where he delivered a highly anticipated speech to Muslim nations, calling on them to aggressively combat terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Those words have been parsed and analyzed. Let's go live to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and bring in international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. The president according to one American newspaper calling out Muslims on terror, urging unity another one says.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, this was a message certainly for the audience, a really regional audience here, not the same as the campaign trail audience, and that's why the message was substantially, substantially different. He was very supportive, reassuring, saying that we've got your back.

Our friends have no need to worry about our support. He was aspirational. He says what we're trying to do for everyone's children, for a better future. He was cajoling. He says I have not come here to tell you how to live your lives, that this is not something between faiths but between good and evil.

But there was also that stronger, tougher side, which was the more demanding side, saying kick these terrorists out of your country. This is how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land and drive them out of this earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: So, that speech was all about security. Saturday had been all about business, $350 billion worth of deals signed with the Saudis, $109 billion worth of that in armaments for Saudi Arabia, for it to feel secure in the region. It believes Iran is the big threat. Melania Trump, the first lady, got positive write-ups in the papers here for what she was wearing. She also took on a role going to a girls' school, promoting women's rights in the country, also visiting a business. It wasn't all business on this trip for the first lady and the president.

There was some relaxation, a traditional sword dance. President Trump got involved in that. Various members of the cabinet did as well.

Secretary Tillerson was quite notable in his dancing as well and he later said it wasn't his first sword dancing ceremony in Saudi Arabia. We can believe that. He's been here before, of course, in his previous incarnation --

ROMANS: All right, I want to -- hold on there, Nic. We're looking at Air Force One right now, Nic. I want to break in here. This is the arrival ceremony where they're getting ready for the arrival of the president in Tel Aviv. You can see wheels down. His plane is taxiing here. So, 5:09 a.m. in the east here, 12:09 in Israel. The president has landed.

BRIGGS: Yes, and this is a very interesting trip. You know, President Obama went to Israel also very early in his presidency. This will differ in that President Trump will be the first to visit the western wall.

[05:10:01]He has talked a lot about moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move they have now reversed course on and will stay put. But President Trump has said he wants the, quote, "ultimate deal," Christine.

And how will his approach for Mideast peace differ from presidents who have failed in the past? We don't yet know. Perhaps we will get a glimpse of that as we are now getting a glimpse of President Trump and Air Force One landing there in Tel Aviv at 12:10 local time, 5:10 Eastern Time here in the United States.

ROMANS: He will be met by both the president and prime minister of Israel and there is going to be some -- there will be some public comments later this morning, but for the most part, this is going to be the arrival ceremony here where the cabinet ministers have all been told they must be there.

BRIGGS: Must be there.

ROMANS: So they are all there. And you know, he had a very smooth and I would say well-choreographed reception in Riyadh when he got there. So, this is the second leg of the week-long trip. Josh Rogin is in Washington for us also there waiting for the president to deplane. Good morning, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

ROMANS: So great to see you.

ROGIN: Likewise. ROMANS: We'll keep watching these live pictures while we chat this morning. All the ministers, the government ministers are going to be there and this is the second leg, following up on what many people are saying is a pretty successful leg one of this trip. What are you expecting?

ROGIN: Well, what we heard yesterday from the region was that the Israelis actually stepped up the pageantry of this welcome ceremony after they saw how the Saudis really literally and figuratively rolled out the red carpet for President Trump.

The Israelis did not want to be shown up by their Saudi friends, so they upgraded the ceremony that you're looking at right now, and it's part of this overall competition to see which country can really project the most enthusiastic support for this new administration.

And they're really going back and forth to prove both to the president himself and to the administration that they are as close as they can be to where President Trump is and what he wants for the region.

So, what you're going to see is a determined effort to make this leg of the trip go as smoothly and be as happy as the first leg was, neither side wants to be the one where the president shows up and something goes wrong. So, that's job number one.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROGIN: No problems, no issues, everybody gets along, everybody's happy. Then you get to the question of, OK, well, what is the substance? As you noted correctly there was a good amount of substance in the president's visit to Riyadh.

They've spent a lot of time and these preparations were led primarily by President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. And they set up a series of deliverables. You can debate some of those were planned for years, for months, for weeks.

Nevertheless, they were ready with things to announce, things to say. The speech fit into their theme. It all sort of made sense, and they projected somewhat uncharacteristically for this administration a level of, you know, sort of organization and planning, and it all went to that plan.

And that's going to be very tough to do on this very short trip to Israel. The president has a lot of things packed into the next 24 hours. He's going to give a major speech similar to a major speech he made at his last stop.

This will be at the Israel Museum. It had originally been scheduled to be on the top of Mt. Masada, a very historical site in Israel, but they rescheduled it, the U.S. side said because it was too hot and the Israeli side said because President Trump wasn't allowed to land the helicopter on the mountain.

Regardless, they'll do that. He will also met with Netanyahu and also travel to Bethlehem to meet with President Abbas. And that's going to show that the president is really not intending to take any side in this sort of budding peace process that he's trying to establish.

Now, that's interesting on two basic levels, and I can go on as long as you want, so let me know when I've said enough. But it's fascinating to us who have been watching President Trump's Middle East peace process policy, because during the campaign, we had expected him to side heavily with the Israelis.

That's what he was saying and projecting during that campaign. As you noted, he said he would move the embassy to Jerusalem, but more than that, he said he wasn't going to repeat the failed mistakes of past administrations who pushed for a peace process above the objections of the Israelis and those who thought that the timing wasn't right.

And now here we are, just four months into the presidency, and he's doing exactly that. He's starting a peace process, which nobody knows, could it succeed, could it fail? You know, history tells us that usually it fails. Maybe Trump has the special magic sauce that will make Middle East peace possible.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROGIN: You know, but he's going for it, and that is a huge change from where he was before he was president, and that's what has Israelis nervous and Palestinians happy.

[05:15:13]The Palestinians are thrilled because they're in the game, they're part of this. They're being treated somewhat as equals to their Israeli counterparts.

The Israelis are full of anxiety because they fear that the Trump administration's ultimately going to press them to make concessions on peace that they didn't think they were going to have to make.

They didn't want to go through this again. You know, now, what's different with the Trump administration as opposed to the Obama administration is that the Trump administration doesn't really have firm plans for how to move this forward.

When the Obama people got engaged in this, they came up with schemes and maps and all sorts of back-and-forth ideas of how they were going to get these two parties to come to the table and then eventually strike a deal. The Trump administration's doing exactly the opposite way.

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: They have a guy named Jason Greenblatt, who is very close to Jared Kushner, who's been in the region basically listening. Jared Kushner himself doesn't have a map that he's going to put on the table and say you get this and you get that and you get this.

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: They're just going to sort of get everybody together and see what happens, and that's a very, very different approach. Now, is that a better approach or a worse approach? We will only know when we see what the results are.

ROMANS: Josh, can I ask you real quickly, do you think that the backdrop of the sharing intelligence with the Russians, do you think that there's nervousness, unease behind the scenes? Do you think that's going to come up?

ROGIN: It will come up privately, but definitely not publicly. There's no chance, there's no idea that the Israelis have anything to benefit --

ROMANS: Has it strained the early, I guess optimism among Israelis about this presidency?

ROGIN: You know, Israel -- yes, but mostly amongst the security services. There's sort of the official top-line political relationship, which is strained because of the reasons that we've just talked about. You know, Benjamin Netanyahu is in a tough position.

He's got to worry about his political domestic fortunes, especially pressure from those in his cabinet, those on the right who don't want him to go down this road of a peace negotiation again because they think it will result in concessions. So, that's one tension.

Then you've got the sort of security-to-security tensions, and that is definitely affected by the revelation that the Trump -- that President Trump revealed Israeli classified intelligence to the Russians, but that's somewhat on a different track.

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: So, that's not what they're dealing with today and it's not really going to come up today or tomorrow because it's not at the president-to-president level. It's not something that Netanyahu's going to want to bring up, right? There's no upside for him in that.

BRIGGS: Right. So, Josh, Israelis are nervous that this is -- though the campaign rhetoric was massively different from what they had heard from President OBAMA, they're nervous that in the end they're going to be left with the same type of policies. How might Trump break with Obama policy regarding peace in the Middle East, regarding the Israelis specifically?

ROGIN: Well, there's a couple of things he could do, and I know these are things that have been discussed internally but haven't surfaced to the level of an actual plan or policy. You know, one thing he could do is he could bring all of these Arab countries into this process in advance.

There are things that Israel wants from the Arab nations and things that the Arab nations want from Israel. So, if you're just talking Israel and the Palestinians, it's really tough to see how that proceeds on its own.

What we have heard is what the Trump administration is thinking about doing is an outside-in strategy. That is, getting the Arab Gulf countries that President Trump just spoke to less than 24 hours ago on board with some sort of big idea and then folding that back into this process.

Are they still doing that? It's really hard to tell. When we talk to White House officials, and I have talked to White House officials about this as recently as a week ago, there is no real set plan or strategy.

They're talking about this, they're talking about that. They're going to see what shakes out, and they're going to see where to go. The other thing that they could do is they can give Israel extra assurances.

So, when you talk about sort of the security-to-security relationship, if the Israelis are worried that the Palestinians are going to get too many concessions up front, which they are worried about, there are things that you can give the Israelis on the security side in terms of things they want.

You know, in terms of weapons, in terms of security support, in terms of money, sugar that can make the medicine go down. So, there is a whole basket of options that they can draw from, but again, it's not clear what they want to do.

I think part of this trip is actually for the president himself, he learns a lot on these trips. And what we keep hearing is that when he goes to these countries and speaks to these leaders, he asks them a lot of questions -- what do you think about this? How do you think this is going to work?

[05:20:05]And a lot of this, you know, is a little strange, but this is the world we live in, is that Trump has to go to these countries and meet these leaders and hear from them directly how they want this process to proceed what they're willing to do and what they're not willing to do, and then he can understand it better and then that helps the whole process by the White House --

ROMANS: It's so interesting. It's almost as a businessman doing due diligence is almost what it is, you know? I just see kind of the business brain there when you talk about that. You know, there's a huge, you know, billions and billions of arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

There were some rumblings this weekend that that may have unnerved the Israelis, who want, you know, who want the best and the newest weaponry from the United States. Any blowback on that front?

ROGIN: Yes. I mean, I think that's one of the things everybody's going to be watching over the next 24 hours. What I've heard, talking to administration officials, is that while we have this deal for, what, $110 billion of new weapons for Saudi Arabia, $350 billion potentially over ten years -- now, nobody knows if the numbers are actually going to get that high. Basically what you do is you announce these big numbers, then you see what happens --

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: -- it could be all that money, it could be less. What I've heard directly from White House officials is that none of those items threaten what we call Israel's qualitative military edge. It's a commitment in U.S. law that we won't give the Arab states anything that we wouldn't give -- that the Israelis don't already have.

BRIGGS: Right.

ROGIN: So, we can give them a ton of weapons, but you can't give them the stuff that would really challenge Israel's ability to defend themselves if they ever got into a shooting war with the Arab countries.

ROMANS: We're watching Benjamin Netanyahu arrive at the location right now. He will be there. So will the president of Israel, and we know that the president of the United States' plane is still taxiing, Air Force One is still taxiing there. We don't have the plane up to the stairs yet, but we're getting closer to the ceremony.

BRIGGS: We're awaiting the president to step off of Air Force One. And Josh, back to those deals. And the president talked in Riyadh about, quote, "shared interests and values." He did so without mentioning human rights, and that was some of the big criticism back here in the United States.

So, again, as we watch Benjamin Netanyahu awaiting President Trump's arrival, the question is what are those shared interests and values if human rights has now been taken off the table?

ROGIN: Right. What the president said was fascinating. He said we're not here to lecture you. We're not going to tell you how to live your life or what to do in your own country.

And while administration officials will say that that's not an abandonment of the United States' historic role as a leader and defender of human rights, you know, that's how a lot of these leaders in these nations are going to hear it.

And they're going to see it as a green light to do whatever they want to do inside their own countries, and many of these autocracies are just brutal to many of their citizens, including Saudi Arabia. It's just a fact. You can't deny it.

Now, when he talks about shared interests and values, that's where he's talking about, OK, what can we agree on besides all that difficult human rights stuff? And that's really going after extremism, going after terrorists, being tough against Iran.

There are a lot of things that the U.S. and the Gulf countries agree on. How to treat their own citizens is just not one of them. But you know, they say history doesn't always repeat itself, but it often rhymes, right?

ROMANS: Right.

ROGIN: And this is sort of where we're going back to, a traditional stance, a version of what we saw in the George W. Bush administration, although I would note here that George W. Bush had a freedom agenda and pushed in his own way.

And Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, had a very nuanced policy of pushing towards these countries to reform in their own way, in their own time with a mix of carrots and pressure and sticks.

ROMANS: Josh, we're watching this plane taxi here. I want to bring in Sara Murray quickly, in Jerusalem for us this morning. She's been following the president's trip from the perspective of the White House press corps.

Sara, good morning again. We're still waiting for the plane to get up to the stairs and the deplaning and the ceremony. Everything's ready to go here. Josh was talking about deliverables. From the White House perspective, what are the deliverables from this leg of the trip that they would like to bring home?

MURRAY: Look, we know what the president's broad goal, right, which is a sweeping Mideast peace agreement. I don't think anyone is really expecting that he's going to show up here for two days and meet with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and all of a sudden everyone is going to agree.

I think we saw Israel make some moves today. They're basically both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority have sent signals that they're willing to at least being open to the negotiating table. That may be the best the president can hope for in terms of deliverables.

[05:25:01]And also some good photo ops along the way, the ability to meet with them privately to sort of get an idea of what he feels like it will take to actually strike a Mideast peace agreement.

So, it will be very interesting to see what President Trump says about this publicly today, not just on the peace agreement, though, but also what, if anything, he says about the potential for moving the embassy.

Remember, as a candidate, he said he would immediately try to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He's backed off of that now, and his advisers are indicating he's not going to do that immediately. So, it will be interesting to see if he discusses this at all publicly during this visit.

BRIGGS: And Sara, you talk about some of the photo ops after some massive missteps this past week, in particular on optics with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador inside the oval office. What image do you think the president wants to be beamed around the world as he visits those holy sites in Israel?

MURRAY: Well, you have to remember the broad structure of this trip, which is, as far as the White House is concerned, not just about the deliverables, but also paying homage to these major world religions.

We saw him come from Saudi Arabia, where, let's be honest, a big part of that goal was for the president to try to send the notion that he is not anti-Muslim. So today, he will visit the western wall, a historic first for an American president. He'll pay homage at one of the holiest sites for those of the Jewish faith to pray. He will also visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is one of the holiest sites for Christians.

So, you sort of have this religious undercurrent that will tie these things together, and I think it is also telling that he is going to meet with Bibi Netanyahu, he is going to meet with President Abbas.

There was discussion about trying to get them all in the same room. If that happens, I think that the president will tout that as a big victory, but as of right now, there's no indication that that meeting will come to fruition.

ROMANS: And this is the second leg of this historic trip, and it's also historic in a way, Sara, because this was a flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Tel Aviv. Wow, you know? I mean, it's just, these two countries, the president tying them together this way with this trip, the first and second leg of this trip, Sara.

MURRAY: It is. Normally, you would make a stop (inaudible). We've seen the presidents in the past do this because there is no diplomatic relationship between Tel Aviv and Saudi Arabia so it is another first that he was able to fly directly here, and I think you're beginning to see the ceremony here at Ben Gorian Airport, a warm welcome.

You know that the Israelis were certainly keeping an eye on what Saudi Arabia was doing. They had a very elaborate ceremony to welcome President Trump.

And my colleague, Oren Liebermann, had excellent reporting yesterday about how Benjamin Netanyahu essentially required his ministers to appear at the airport for this ceremony, even if they will not have an opportunity to shake President Trump's hand.

It is already very warm midday and these folks have been sitting at this airport outside in the sun for hours waiting for the arrival of the American president.

ROMANS: Sara, sit tight with us while we're waiting for him to deplane. You can see the plane taxiing down the runway here right now. Let's get Josh Rogin in here again.

BRIGGS: Josh Rogin back with us from the "Washington Post." Optics obviously very important for these world leaders. We've been told that pageantry and flattery are very important now in welcoming in particular this president.

But Josh, let's look back on what the president said just May 3rd about Mideast peace, quote, "It is something that I think is frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years."

Clearly, he'll be welcomed with an entirely new reality when he starts to meet with these leaders regarding the difficulty of Mideast peace, but he wants some sort of "w." He's a transactional guy. What small victory could perhaps the president take from this visit to Israel? ROGIN: Right. What he just wants is he wants both of these leaders to endorse the fact that he as president of the United States brings something to the table that will change this pattern of failed Mideast peace processes that have gone back I don't know how many decades, right?

The big idea here for President Trump is that he is a unique figure in history, right? When we saw -- this is what President El-Sisi of Egypt said yesterday in Saudi Arabia.

He said Donald Trump is special in some way in that his unique participation will push forward these intransigent issues in ways we can't anticipate.

And if he can both get sort of both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to buy into that frame, that's enough. That will do it. That will get us to the next whatever, right.

And again, it's sort of what we call in Washington a self-licking ice cream cone, OK? This is a machine that exists to perpetuate itself. He's not trying to solve anything on this trip. He's trying to keep it going, OK?