Palestinians protest in support of prisoners on hunger strike

Nick Mcbride
May 6, 2017

Abbas said he believes the Trump administration can play an important role as a mediator, and the USA president indeed restated his ambition to facilitate the deal that has eluded negotiators for more than two decades.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a press conference on Wednesday that the issue was discussed at the meeting between Abbas and Trump.

"The president of the United States, as we speak, is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem", he said, speaking at an event to celebrate Israel's Independence Day.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson-a key donor to Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu-is reportedly increasingly angry about Trump's slow progress on the campaign pledge.

Despite the lack of specifics, Abbas described his meeting with Trump as positive and said that "we build hopes on it".

Mr Abbas, 82, who was among the negotiators on hand for the historic signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn in 1993, indicated that he did feel optimistic that almost a quarter-century later, Mr Trump might be the president who finally builds on that initial agreement to forge a final resolution to the conflict.

Hamas has held Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responsible for all "dangerous consequences of the failed reconciliation and targeting the unity and perseverance of the Palestinian people", stressing that his threats should be directed at "the country's enemies" not its partners. "Trump can't achieve anything here beyond cocktail chatter with Israelis and Palestinians diplomats", she said. "Hopefully something terrific could come out of it between the Palestinians & Israel". Abbas had demanded Trump, in one way or another, to drop this issue.

As a package, that formulation has been a non-starter for Israel, which itself has shown no sign since Mr Trump took office of backing off on any of its own longstanding fixed positions. He said, "I hope that it's possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace". "It's time for Israel to end its occupation of our people and of our land", he said.

USA officials said ahead of the meeting that Trump would press Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails.

A senior U.S. official said on Tuesday that the issue of payments had been raised in preliminary talks with the Palestinians in Washington.

Still, the very fact that the meeting was held was an improvement for Abbas over the early weeks of the Trump administration, when the Palestinians felt ignored and frozen out.

Other reports by VgToday

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