Trump Says He Wants To Help Mediate Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal

Posted May 15, 2017

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his first meeting with President Donald Trump left him hopeful, but he did not appear to have come away with any achievements that move the needle on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed to work as a "mediator" to negotiate peaceful relationship between Israeli and Palestinians under the erroneous assumption that the two countries "work together beautifully". "We believe you're willing, and if you both are willing, we're going to make a deal", Trump added. So Palestinians, they don't expect much out of this. Abbas had demanded Trump, in one way or another, to drop this issue.

Abbas said he believed their partnership could bring about a historic peace deal, emphasizing that he wants to see a Palestinian state with borders that existed prior to the region's war in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel has rejected the 1967 lines as a possible border, saying it would impose security risks. But at the same time, he didn't offer any new strategy about how peace could be achieved. "That's unfortunately not true", Netanyahu said Thursday during a meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu in Jerusalem.

He warned that Trump's vision of resolving the conflict might be close to the Israeli vision "which might drop the option of the two-state solution".

Abbas demanded that Israel recognize a Palestinian state "just as the Palestinian people recognize the state of Israel", but he pointedly did not define Israel as a Jewish state - something Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been calling for since a landmark 2009 speech in which he conditionally endorsed Palestinian statehood.

The source of Trump's optimism was not immediately apparent. But when he later sat down to lunch with the Palestinian leader, he said it was "maybe not as hard as people have thought over the years".

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Trump, who said he made a decision to "start a process" but offered no new policy prescriptions or timetable, may be underestimating the challenge when trust between the two sides is at a low point, analysts said. Palestinian officials said after the meeting that Trump had not raised any specific proposals to restart negotiations. That has sparked speculation about a meeting among the three. But that was a far cry from the way Trump and Netanyahu interacted in February.

Senior Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath. Abbas has insisted on the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The hunger strike of more than 1500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails was also highlighted on the front page of the dailies, particularly the rally held in Ramallah in support of the prisoners.

Abbas is hamstrung by the fact that his Palestinian Authority does not control all Palestinian territory, since the militant Hamas movement seized control in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Trump has tasked his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and lawyer Jason Greenblatt with tackling the issue.