Trump Meets Palestinian Leader Abbas to Weigh Peace Prospects

Trump aide lays out 'disruptive' approach on eve of Mideast talks

Trump aide lays out 'disruptive' approach on eve of Mideast talks

WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump predicted an Israeli-Palestinian agreement might be "not as hard as people have thought" in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, but failed to mention what has been a key component to a deal ― a separate Palestinian state.

Despite bleak prospects for success, President Donald Trump promised on Wednesday "to do whatever is necessary" to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Later, before a lunch in the Cabinet Room, Trump sounded even more optimistic about one of the toughest issues in global politics, saying: "Let's see if we can find the solution".

At one point, Abbas, who read a statement in Arabic, said in English, "We have hope".

Despite that, Mr Abbas was nearly effusive in his faith in Mr Trump, saying that the Palestinian people are "capable, under your stewardship.and great negotiating ability" to be true partners with the US.

Trump used the occasion to renew his call to defeat the Islamic State terrorist organizations. He did not respond to questions from the press pool about whether he is still considering moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Both leaders avoided mentioning any specifics on the way forward beyond a USA push to counter incitement and hate rhetoric from the Palestinian side.

And despite Trump's cadre of Israel hardliners, he struck a cordial tone with Abbas in their Wednesday press conference, and Abbas reciprocated.

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"The Palestinians and Israelis must work together to reach an agreement that allows both peoples to live, worship, and thrive and prosper in peace", Trump said.

According to former White House official Dennis Ross, Trump was helping Abbas by extending the White House invite. He said "it's about time" for Israel to stop occupying Palestinian lands and to recognize a Palestinian state.

The bill is named after Taylor Force, a US citizen, West Point graduate and veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, who was killed by a 22-year-old Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel last year.

Like previous USA leaders, Trump faces numerous obstacles in the long-shot bid.

Trump even extended another possible invite to Abbas in "welcoming him back as a great marker of progress and, ultimately, toward the signing of a document with the Israelis and with Israel toward peace". "We believe that we are capable and able to bring about success to our efforts because, Mr President, you have the determination and you have the desire to see it become to fruition and to become successful".

But the scale of that challenge was quickly made clear as Abbas repeated the conditions Palestinians have insisted on for years: the creation of an independent Palestinian state based on the borders that existed before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; the right of return for refugees; and freedom for prisoners in Israeli cells.

However, plans are being firmed up for Trump to visit Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and possibly Abbas in the West Bank, on May 22-23.

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