(CNN) — President Donald Trump will provide Benjamin Netanyahu both temporary refuge from ongoing scandal and a de facto campaign venue at the White House when he hosts the embattled Israeli prime minister for talks Monday.
The meeting, which was announced last week, comes as Netanyahu faces new allegations of corruption, which are piled on top of accusations he used his position for personal gain.
Legal plights have been a shared burden for Trump and Netanyahu over the past several years. But Trump is entering the week with some of his troubles lifted: special counsel Robert Mueller has ended his investigation and found no evidence Trump or his associates colluded with Russia, according to the attorney general.
The investigation was less determinative on whether Trump obstructed justice. But nevertheless the President plans to use the conclusion to ambush Democrats and his opponents for leading a fruitless probe.
In mounting his own self-defense, Netanyahu has employed some of the same tactics as Trump, decrying his accusers as politically motivated, lambasting “fake news” and even using the term “witch hunt” to describe the various corruption cases.
The claims of misconduct come as he’s facing the toughest re-election bid of his political career. Trump discarded past US practice by agreeing to meet with Netanyahu within weeks of election day.
Initially scheduled over two days, including dinner with Trump on Tuesday evening, Netanyahu announced on Monday he was cutting his trip short to return home after a rocket fired from Gaza struck a house in central Israel.
But even the truncated visit is meant to bolster his political standing in Israel, where Trump remains popular. Already, the President has handed Netanyahu a victory: declaring his intention to formally recognize the contested Golan Heights — considered Israeli-occupied territory by the international community — as part of the state of Israel.
Trump made the announcement on Twitter last week, and is expected to formalize it during Netanyahu’s visit.
At the same time Netanyahu is meeting Trump at the White House, his main opponent in the April elections, retired Army chief of staff Benny Gantz, will be addressing the yearly conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, held at the Washington Convention Center across town.
Netanyahu was also scheduled to address the gathering on Tuesday but his announced return to Israel will preclude him making an appearance that has been a traditional centerpiece of the conference. US Democrats this year have been reckoning with whether to appear at AIPAC, which has come under criticism for advocating against the Iran nuclear deal.
In recent weeks, Trump has harshly criticized his political opponents as being anti-Israel, citing comments he claims are anti-Semitic. In addition to aiding Netanyahu in his election bid, the Golan Heights move also appeared designed to give Trump a boost among pro-Israel voters in the US.
“The Democrats have very much proven to be anti-Israel, and it’s a disgrace,” Trump claimed on Friday morning at the White House. “I don’t know what has happened to them, but they are totally anti-Israel. Frankly, I think they are anti-Jewish.”