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Trump tells Netanyahu he would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's 'undivided' capital

Most countries consider Jerusalem's final status to be key issue to be resolved in peace negotiations with Palestinians
Donald Trump says he is ready to help Israel (AFP/file photo)

Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged on Sunday in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided" capital if he is elected.

Netanyahu met privately with Trump at his residence in Trump Tower a day before the New York billionaire faces off against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for their first presidential debate. Netanyahu will meet Clinton later on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu departs after meeting with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Sunday in New York (AFP)

"Trump acknowledged that Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish people for over 3000 years, and that the United States, under a Trump administration, will finally accept the long-standing congressional mandate to recognise Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the state of Israel," his campaign said in a statement.

Israel captured the Arab eastern half of Jerusalem during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and annexed it in 1980, declaring all of Jerusalem Israel's unified capital. The US - and most other UN member countries - do not recognise the annexation and consider Jerusalem's final status to be a key issue to be resolved in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The US Congress passed a law in October 1995 calling for an undivided Jerusalem to be recognised as Israel's capital and to authorise funding for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But no US president - Democrat or Republican - has implemented the law, regarding it as an infringement on the executive branch's authority over foreign policy.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu presented Israel's positions on regional issues related to Israel's security and efforts to achieve peace and stability," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Mr Trump for his friendship and support of Israel."

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office said that Israel's Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, attended the meeting, Haaretz said.

The Trump statement said he promised Netanyahu that the US would provide Israel with "extraordinary strategic, technological and military cooperation" if he is elected.

"Mr Trump recognised Israel as a vital partner of the United States in the global war against radical Islamic terrorism," it said

"They discussed at length the nuclear deal with Iran, the battle against ISIS and many other regional security concerns."

The campaign said they also discussed Israel's experience with the security fence" used to wall off Israel from the West Bank.

Trump has made building a wall along the US-Mexico border a signature campaign promise.

A senior Israeli official said that the meetings between Netanyahu and the candidates materialised over 24 hours on Friday, starting with a phone call Trump's aides held with the prime minister's advisers, Haaretz reported.

Once it was clear that a meeting between the two was possible, Netanyahu's office contacted Clinton's campaign and asked to hold a meeting with her too, in order to keep the balance.

Netanyahu has made it his policy in recent months that Israel would maintain absolute balance in its contacts with the two candidates in the White House race, Haaretz said.

Netanyahu, who in 2012 acted in a way that was perceived as him interfering on behalf of nominee Mitt Romney and against the incumbent president, Barack Obama, is interested in avoiding giving even the slightest impression of interference.

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