Former Netanyahu aide Nir Hefetz may turn state's witness

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former top adviser Nir Hefetz signed a state's witness agreement Monday in a high-profile corruption case involving the Israeli leader, officials said.

A picture dated on February 25, 2018 shows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office.

"We'll remember how you, Donald J. Trump, recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital", Netanyahu said.

Trump said he was considering a visit to Israel whenever the embassy is opened.

"We are as committed to peace as ever", the official said.

No major announcements or breakthroughs are expected from Trump's talks with Netanyahu, whose relationship with the president has been among the closest of any other world leader.

The Israeli prime minister then commented on the chance for Middle East peace, stressing the importance of seizing the current opportunity.

Elovitch is suspected of giving and receiving bribes and illicit favors worth "up to a billion shekels" - more than one-quarter of a billion United States dollars - prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh of the Israel Securities Authority said last week during a hearing.

"Last night a state's witness deal was signed between the Investigations, Intelligence and Commerce Monitoring Divisions at the Israel Securities Authority and the Israel Police National Economic Crime Unit. and Nir Hefetz", a police statement released by the Justice Ministry said.

Trump said he believed the Palestinians are "wanting to come back to the table very badly" - but did not expand on that claim.

"It's practicing aggression everywhere, including on our own borders", Netanyahu told Trump.

"We're looking at coming, if I can I will, Israel is very special to me, special country, special people, I look forward to being there and I'm very proud of that decision", said the U.S. president. "That is our common challenge".

Monday's meeting comes in the middle of the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, where Netanyahu will speak, along with Vice President Mike Pence and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Trump has said he will end the agreement if Congress doesn't somehow "fix" it, but he has not yet taken that step.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, said Trump's decision on Jerusalem renders the United States an unreliable actor in peace talks.

A proposed State Department budget for the fiscal year starting October 1 said "the construction of a U.S. Embassy facility in Jerusalem will be among the Department's highest priority for capital security investments in FY 2018 and FY 2019".

If I had to say what is our greatest challenge in the Middle East to both our countries, to our Arab neighbors, it's encapsulated in one word: "Iran", he said. We're working on it very hard. "If they don't, you don't have peace. and that's a possibility also".

  • Tracy Klein