Abbas ‘ready’ to meet Netanyahu as part of Trump effort

Palestinian leader says he’s ready to ‘collaborate’ with Trump, who’s expected to visit the occupied territories ‘soon’.

Mahmoud Abbas
During his visit to Washington, Abbas reiterated the Palestinian demand for an independent Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that he was ready to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a peace initiative by US President Donald Trump, who is expected to visit the Palestinian territories “soon”.

Trump is to visit Israel later this month as part of his first foreign trip and Abbas said “we are looking forward to his visit soon to Bethlehem” in the occupied West Bank, amid speculation a stop in the occupied Palestinian territories will take place on May 23.

Abbas met the US president in Washington last week for their first face-to-face talks.

“We told him that we were ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli PM under his auspices to build peace,” Abbas told reporters as he met German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Ramallah on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Trump-Abbas meeting an exercise in futility

Trump announced last week that his first foreign trip as president will include stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.

The visit to Israel is expected on May 22, though it has not been officially confirmed.

A senior Trump aide last week did not rule out the possibility of a presidential visit to the occupied West Bank,

Trump has been seeking ways to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, which have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

Trump, Abbas express high hopes over Middle East peace

As he hosted Abbas in Washington, Trump confidently predicted that a peace agreement was within grasp, without, however, offering any concrete details about how to resolve the long-running conflict.

“We will get it done,” Trump said at the time.

“It is something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

Trump added that any agreement could not be imposed by the US.

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

Abbas said on Tuesday that “we told him again of our commitment to a peace based on justice, with international resolutions and the two-state solution as references”. 

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Abbas made last week’s trip to Washington while politically unpopular back home, with polls suggesting most Palestinians want the 82-year-old to resign.

He is hoping Trump can pressure Israel into concessions he believes are necessary to salvage a two-state solution to the conflict – the idea of Israel and Palestine living side by side and at peace has been the bedrock of US diplomacy for the past two decades.

‘No other solution’

But Trump, who promised during his election campaign to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has previously challenged the legitimacy of Palestinian demands for a state and dropped his country’s commitment to a two-state solution. 

At the same time, he has urged Israel to hold back on settlement building in the West Bank, a long-standing concern of Palestinians and much of the world.

For his part, Steinmeier said the need for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict is “truly urgent”.

Speaking after meeting with Abbas, the German president said much time has already been spent on efforts to set up a state of Palestine alongside Israel.

“In our view there is no other solution,” he said, adding that “it’s high time to work on the requirements for it”.

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Source: News Agencies