Trump says Palestinian and Israeli leaders ready to "reach for peace"

Jane Richards
May 23, 2017

Donald Trump made clear from the moment of his arrival in Israel Monday that the goal of his trip, promoted by the White House and the media as part of a quest for "Middle East peace", is the consolidation of reactionary regional alliance in support of a USA military buildup against Iran.

Trump is meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday in the West Bank's biblical city of Bethlehem.

"It is something that I think is, frankly, maybe, not as hard as people have thought over the years", Trump said last month during a meeting with Abbas.

Trump greeted Abbas outside the presidential palace and the two men walked along a red carpet onto its grounds.

Trump has spoken of reviving long-stalled peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians, but few specifics have emerged of how he intends to do so.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett reports from Jerusalem.

Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator and vice president at the Wilson Center in Washington, said in a phone interview that he doesn't foresee a possibility "in real-time" that Trump will be able to "cut the ultimate deal" - a final agreement to end the conflict.

Trump, who is on his maiden foreign trip since taking office in January, urged Iran to cease "its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias".

Trump said in joint remarks with Netanyahu later Monday that he was "deeply moved" by the experience. When Donald Trump extended his hand to the First Lady, she smacked it away making it clear she does not want to hold his hand.

Trump praised Israel, saying it had "built one of the great civilisations: a strong, resilient, determined nation" that he said was "forged in the commitment that we can never allow the horrors and atrocities of the last century to be repeated".

President Trump, Monday, denied reportage that he leaked highly confidential information to Russian Federation in Israel.

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In contrast to the growing militancy of the Palestinian population, the corrupt Palestinian Authority led by Abbas, which is heavily dependent upon funding from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil sheikdoms, is moving to accommodate itself to Trump's Mideast policy.

Before leaving for Bethlehem onboard Air Force One, President Donald Trump and his wife visited the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in Jerusalem and were gifted a book of Psalms by Director General Mordechai Elias and the Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch.

"So many young, lovely innocent people living and enjoying their lives, murdered by evil losers in life", Trump said, echoing the theme he presented during his meetings with Arab leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Many Israelis hoped Trump would announce the embassy move during his current visit, but USA officials ahead of the trip indicated that would not happen.

Security in Jerusalem was on high alert with more than 10,000 patrol units involved in securing the two-day visit, according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Trump received a warm welcome in Riyadh from Arab leaders, especially over his tough line on Tehran, which many Sunni Muslim Arab states regard as seeking regional control.

But after years in which Barack Obama essentially abandoned the Mideast peace process, Trump and his strongly pro-Israel administration have shown early signs of giving it another try. He reiterated the Palestinians' demands, including establishing a capital in East Jerusalem, territory Israel claims as well, insisting that "our problem is not with the Jewish religion, it's with the occupation and settlements, and with Israel not recognizing the state of Palestine".

In 2011, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization became the first U.N. agency to admit the "state of Palestine", and in recent years Arab states have introduced resolutions at UNESCO rejecting any Jewish connection to Judaism's most important sites.

Trump arrived at the Israel Museum after laying a wreath at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial.

But the visit also comes as the U.S.

Other reports by VgToday

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