Trump brings in hope for solving Israeli-Palestine conflict

Marsha Scott
May 16, 2017

US President Donald Trump has welcomed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to the White House to discuss ways to resume the Palestinian-Israeli political process.

Abbas said that Palestinians wish to see a two-state solution based on 1967 borders with a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.

USA officials had said ahead of Wednesday's meeting that Trump would press Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.

"But we need two willing parties. I believe we can be partners - true partners to you - to bring about a historic peace treaty", Abbas said through an interpreter.

These elements "have created an opportunity that coincides with our new and unconventional American president", he said.

Brushing aside the complexities of a decades-old conflict that has beguiled successive United States leaders, Trump told Abbas that together with the Israelis they could bag "the toughest deal to make".

Wednesday's meeting, Abbas's first with Trump since he became president, comes amid uncertainty about how Trump will handle the long-stalled Middle East peace process. And if you believe the Times of Israel's founding editor David Horovitz, you will think it all went down so well for Abbas, that Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu will have some very sleepless nights.

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The goal of a Palestinian state living peacefully beside Israel has been the position of successive USA administrations and the worldwide community. "We believe Israel is willing". "I applaud them", he said, "they get unbelievably well together". USA officials said such a request was raised in preparatory talks with Palestinian officials, and three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.

Trump has also lightly criticized Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, but his administration has not acted to prevent or discourage Prime Minister Netanyahu from continuing to allow these settlements. For Abbas and the Palestinians, there is only one solution.

Trump began his remarks in the Oval Office on Wednesday by praising Abbas for his work on the "very important" 1993 agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, called the Oslo I Accords, "which laid the foundation for peace". Trump concluded his statement challenging the naysayers, and said "let's see if we can prove them wrong". "I will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement, to mediate, to arbitrate ― anything they'd like to do", Trump said.

Though expectations are low for significant progress, plans are being firmed up for Trump to visit the right-wing Israeli leader in occupied Jerusalem and possibly Abbas in the West Bank, targeted for May 22-23, according to people familiar with the matter.

Abbas also voiced optimism about the prospect of a peace deal, citing Trump's "great negotiating ability".

The meeting comes amid the Trump administration's efforts to lay the groundwork for brokering a lasting peace between Palestine and Israel. Every US president has signed such a waiver twice a year after a law was passed in 1995 mandating the relocation of the embassy unless the White House certifies doing so would raise national security concerns.

Trump called on Palestinians to renounce violence and to unite both Fatah and Hamas to negotiate with Israel.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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