President Trump will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House during his visit to Washington next week, a trip that comes just weeks ahead of the embattled leader’s bid for reelection next month.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that Trump and Netanyahu will have a meeting Monday focused on the Middle East and then reconvene for dinner on Tuesday.
Netanyahu, who is coming to Washington to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference, is facing corruption charges back home that have complicated his reelection bid.
The Israeli attorney general notified Netanyahu’s legal team last month of plans to charge the prime minister with fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three criminal cases, pending a hearing in which he can present his defense.
Netanyahu, who has enjoyed a close relationship with Trump, contends that left-wing Israelis are conspiring to oust him because they can’t beat him at the ballot box.
During a 2015 visit by Netanyahu to Washington to address a joint session of Congress, then-President Barack Obama declined to meet with him ahead of an Israeli election. A spokesman cited a long-standing policy of avoiding the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country.
Netanyahu’s appearance at the AIPAC gathering is expected to further spotlight recent divisions among congressional Democrats over Israel. The party spent weeks debating how to respond to multiple comments by freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that many considered anti-Semitic.
Among other things, Omar suggested that supporters of Israel in Congress were beholden to AIPAC, a powerful lobbying group, because of its campaign contributions.
Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.