Trump heads for Bethlehem to see Palestinian leader

Claudine Rigal
Mai 29, 2017

Education Minister Naftali Bennett took the opportunity to tell Trump that with Israel celebrating 50 years since the war in which it took the eastern sector of Jerusalem from Jordan, "now's the time to recognise Jerusalem".

Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRubio "not optimistic" on Middle East peace DHS extends protected status for Haitians for six months Congress should let local communities set their own PACE MORE (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that he is not optimistic about reaching a long-term peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, despite President Trump's vocal intention to try.

"I'm personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement", Trump said.

But neither did Trump mention moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or accepting a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He met multiple times with Netanyahu, and said in a joint appearance with the prime minister Tuesday, "I can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace - and, from my meeting with my friend Benjamin Netanyahu, I can tell you Israelis are ready to reach for peace as well". "He wants peace", he said.

"Making peace, however, will not be easy", Trump said.

"We know, for instance, that both Israelis and Palestinians seek lives of hope for their children".

In addition to a change in attitude on Iran from Obama to Trump, the Israelis also liked Trump's decision to bomb a Syrian airbase, which came in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the long-running Syrian civil war.

The status of Jerusalem is ultra-sensitive and has been among the most hard issues in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, stalled since April 2014.

Though the visit to Israel and the West Bank was supposed to restart the peace process for the first time since negotiations broke down in April 2014, the Trump administration left without declaring what the definitive next step would be. He also faces difficulties at home, where he is struggling to contain a scandal after firing James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director two weeks ago.

Trump's visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories is part of his first trip overseas as president, and follows an initial leg in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to confront extremism.

The last talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, led by former USA secretary of state John Kerry, broke down in April 2014 after around a year of largely fruitless discussion.

And instead of declaring confidently that he'd get the deal done, Trump expressed hope that he could, saying, "With determination, compromise and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal".

For its part, Abbas's Fatah party is at sharp odds with the Islamist group Hamas, which is in power in Gaza, leaving no unified Palestinian position on peace. "Never mentioned the word Israel", Trump reiterated.

His speech at the Israel Museum touched on the Jewish connection to the Holy Land, earning applause from the audience, which included Sheldon Adelson, a U.S. billionaire and active political supporter of both Netanyahu and Trump.

Trump and the convoy passed through the 26-foot-tall concrete wall with watch towers that is Israel's separation barrier, and past "Checkpoint 300", where thousands of Palestinian workers cross into Israel each morning to reach their jobs on Israeli construction sites.

"The conflict is not between religions", Abbas said.

He also underlined Christian and Muslim connections, faiths that took root in the land between 1,400 and 2,000 years ago. Trump called for a coalition of partners of the nations of the world "who share the aim of stamping out extremists", and said diverse nations can unite around such a goal.

Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, but Palestinians insist that the city's mostly Arab eastern part be the capital of any future state.

Prior to that meeting, Netanyahu encouraged Trump to put pressure on Abbas to stop the policy of paying the families of Palestinian terrorists who are killed attacking Jews. "The Arab Peace Initiative stands as is, it is a very generous offer by the Arab world and the Muslim world that Israel will be recognized by the entire region, 57 states", Zumlot told i24NEWS. He said the Palestinians' "fundamental problem is with occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine as we recognize it".

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