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Netanyahu Set To Ask For Support Against Iran During His Visit To Washington

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows a map of the Middle East during a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, February 18, 2018

AFP - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet his "true friend" Donald Trump in Washington on Monday during a visit that will take him away from swirling accusations of personal corruption and a government crisis roiling the Israeli scene.

On Friday, police questioned Netanyahu for five hours over a bribery scandal that some commentators say could spell his political doom. In two separate cases, the police last month recommended that he be charged with bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.

At the same time, Netanyahu is grappling with a spreading governmental crisis that could lead to early elections.

But he will find a warm welcome at the White House from a president who has pursued a policy of unswerving support for Israel and its government.

Netanyahu will also take part, during his four-day visit, in the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the influential pro-Israeli lobbying group.

The two leaders are certain to discuss Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital -- a move warmly embraced by Netanyahu though widely denounced in most capitals -- as well as the struggle to curb Iran's regional influence.

In his encounters with Trump and at the AIPAC conference, he is expected to focus mainly on Iran as Israel's greatest enemy, and one he says seeks a permanent military presence in neighboring Syria.

The prime minister is also expected to call again for changes to, or the cancellation of, the nuclear accord between world powers and Iran, said Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington.

"Israel, I think, is hoping that there will be a more active American role in trying to block, trying to stem, the Iranian advances in Syria," where Tehran backs the Assad government, he said. Beyond its political support, the United States provides Israel, its key regional ally, with more than $3 billion in annual military aid.