US president-elect Donald Trump hailed Israel as a “beacon of hope to countless people” on Friday in his first public message to the country since his upset victory. “Israel and America share so many of the same values, such as freedom of speech, freedom of worship and the importance of creating opportunities for all citizens to pursue their dreams,” Trump said in the message published by the Israel Hayom newspaper.

“Israel is the one true democracy and defender of human rights in the Middle East and a beacon of hope to countless people.” He added that he hoped his administration would play a “significant role in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace,” saying that any deal would have to be directly negotiated between the two sides. READ MORE