Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House with their wives
Mr Trump said it was an "honour" to meet Mr Netanyahu and said the United States has an "unbreakable bond" with Israel.
He added: "We will never forget what the Jewish people have endured… America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life."
"Our administration is committed to working with Israel – that includes working towards a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
"We'll be working on it very, very diligently. It's very important to me personally."
For Netanyahu, the talks with Trump will be an opportunity to reset ties after a frequently combative relationship with Barack Obama.
The prime minister spent much of Tuesday huddled with advisers in Washington preparing for the talks.
Officials said they wanted no gaps to emerge between U.S. and Israeli thinking during the scheduled two-hour Oval Office meeting.
During last year's election campaign, Trump was relentlessly pro-Israel in his rhetoric, promising to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusale.
And he backing David Friedman, an ardent supporter of Jewish settlements, as his Israeli envoy and saying that he would not put pressure on Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians.
Trump appears to have put the embassy move on the backburner, at least for now, after warnings about the potential for regional unrest, including from Jordan's King Abdullah.
And rather than giving Israel free rein on settlements, the White House has said building new ones or expanding existing ones beyond their current borders would not be helpful to peace.
That would appear to leave Israel room to build within existing settlements without drawing U.S. condemnation, in what is the sort of gray area the talks are expected to touch on.
For the Palestinians, and much of the rest of the world, settlements built on occupied land are illegal under international law.
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Israel disputes that, but faces increasing criticism over the policy from allies, especially after Netanyahu's announcement in the past three weeks of plans to build 6,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
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