News World ‘We will get this done’ Trump promises Israeli-Palestinian peace

‘We will get this done’ Trump promises Israeli-Palestinian peace

Donald Trump Palestinian
US President Donald Trump says goodbye to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority outside the White House. Photo: AP
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President Donald Trump has vowed to work to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians as he hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House.

But he offered no clues as to how he could break the deadlock and revive long-stalled negotiations.

In their first face-to-face meeting, Mr Trump pressed Palestinian leaders to “speak in a unified voice against incitement” to violence against Israelis but he stopped short of explicitly recommitting his administration to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, a longstanding bedrock of US policy.

“We will get this done,” Mr Trump told Mr Abbas during a joint appearance at the White House, saying he was prepared to act as mediator, facilitator or arbitrator between the two sides.

Mr Abbas quickly reasserted the goal of a Palestinian state as vital to any rejuvenated peace process, reiterating that it must have its capital in Jerusalem with borders based on pre-1967 lines. Israel rejects a full return to 1967 borders as a threat to its security.

Mr Abbas’ White House talks follow a February visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who moved quickly to reset ties after a combative relationship with Democratic President Barack Obama.

Mr Trump sparked international criticism at the time when he appeared to back away from support for a two-state solution, saying he would leave it up to the parties themselves to decide.

The goal of a Palestinian state living peacefully beside Israel has been the position of successive US administrations and the international community.

The meeting with Mr Abbas, the Western-backed head of the Palestinian Authority, was another test of whether Mr Trump, in office a little more than 100 days, is serious about pursuing what he has called the “ultimate deal” of Israeli-Palestinian peace that eluded his predecessors.

“I’ve always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Mr Trump said on Wednesday.

“Let’s see if we can prove them wrong.”

But he offered no new policy prescriptions.

Mr Abbas, speaking through a translator, told Mr Trump that under “your courageous stewardship and your wisdom, as well as your great negotiations ability,” the Palestinians would be partners seeking a “historic peace treaty.”

The last round of US-brokered peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Mr Abbas said “it’s about time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and our land” – a reference to Jewish settlement building in the West Bank. Reaffirming his commitment to a two-state solution, he called on Israel to recognise Palestinian statehood just as Palestinians recognise the state of Israel.

Mr Abbas, who governs in the West Bank while Hamas militants rule Gaza, was under pressure at home to avoid making major concessions to Mr Trump, especially with an ongoing hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Palestinian officials say it will be hard for Mr Abbas to return to the negotiating table without a long-standing pre-condition of a freeze on Jewish settlement expansion on land Israel occupied in 1967 which Palestinians want for a state.