US President Donald Trump has told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that he is ready to act as a “mediator or facilitator” for brokering peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as he exuded confidence that a deal to end their protracted conflict could be struck.
Just two and a half months after he received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump welcomed Abbas and ushered him into the Oval Office for their talks.
In their first meeting, Trump and Abbas discussed the advancement of the Middle East peace process and the strengthening of US-Palestinian relations, the White House said in a statement.
“Trump and Abbas reaffirmed the commitment of both the US and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” it said.
Trump stressed that he is personally committed to helping the Israelis and Palestinians achieve a comprehensive peace, and that any peace settlement can only be the product of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The US President expressed his appreciation for Abbas’ unambiguous support for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
Trump also offered himself as a “mediator, arbiter or facilitator” to help reach a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but said, “any agreement cannot be imposed by the US or any other nations.”
“We will get it done,” Trump said, exuding confidence of facilitating a deal.
Trump told Abbas that together with the Israelis they could bag “the toughest deal to make.”
“It is something that I think is frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years,” Trump said.
Abbas echoed Trump’s optimism, saying, “Our strategic option, our strategic choice is to bring about peace.”
“We believe that we can… be true partners to you to bring about a historic peace under your stewardship,” he said.
However, Abbas asserted that, “Mr. President, it’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and our lands.”
The two leaders discussed the value of actions that can help create a climate conducive to tangible progress toward peace.
According to the White House, the two leaders reaffirmed the joint determination of the Palestinian Authority and the US to combat violence and terrorism.
They discussed the importance of the US-Palestinian partnership in building and sustaining the capacity of Palestinian security forces to counter terrorism, maintaining peace and security for the Palestinians, and continuing strong coordination with the Israeli government to benefit both peoples.
President Trump emphasised the importance of making a clear commitment to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and to stopping incitement, and to continue strengthening efforts to combat terrorism, the White House said.
“President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasised the need to resolve this issue,” it said.
On his meeting with Abbas, Trump tweeted, “An honour to host President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House today.
Hopefully something terrific could come out between the Palestinians and Israel,” Trump tweeted.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at his daily news conference that the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues.
“Some of the topics that were discussed during their meeting and the lunch were: advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace; preventing incitements to violence, particularly media outlets directly associated with the Palestinian Authority; strengthening efforts to combat terrorism, including defeating ISIS; measures to empower the Palestinian economy and provide economic opportunity for the Palestinian people,” he said.