President Trump welcomed the leader of the Palestinian Authority to the White House on Wednesday by pledging to accomplish something that many previous USA administrations have tried but never achieved: A lasting peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis.
President Donald Trump expressed confidence Wednesday that his administration can help the Israelis and the Palestinians find peace, a goal that has vexed US efforts for decades.
Throughout his campaign, Trump had promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and supported Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory - concepts that are both held in high regard by staunch pro-Israel groups. "I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit", Trump told Netanyahu, even though the Israeli leader said he doesn't see settlements as the "core of the problem".
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Barely two and a half months after having received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the USA president greeted Abbas on the White House lawn, before ushering him into the Oval Office for their talks. U.S. President Donald Trump wants to break that pattern - but if the daylight between his meetings with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas indicates anything, it's going to be an uphill battle.
US Vice President Mike Pence contended ahead of the meeting that the White House is "seriously considering" moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"Palestinian leaders need to speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate", he said.
President Trump emphasized his commitment to end the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying there's a "very good chance" for a peace deal and vowing to do "whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement".
And in his White House meeting with Netanyahu on February 15, Trump raised another sensitive issue: Israeli settlements on land in dispute with the Palestinians.
The US president, who was expected to be far tougher on the Palestinians than his predecessor Barack Obama, could hardly have been more warm, gracious and welcoming.
Like previous US leaders, Trump faces numerous obstacles in the long-shot bid.
Trump did not publicly press Abbas to end financial payments to the families of suicide bombers and to other Palestinians who attack Israelis and Americans, a practice that Israel and its supporters say amounts to subsidizing terrorism.
Abbas spoke of the importance of providing solutions that would address the situation Palestinian refugees and those imprisoned in Israeli prisons, referring to "the suffering of my people".
Recently, the Hamas unveiled a new policy document that nominally softens its official position on Israel, while still calling for the complete liberation of Palestine.
Abbas told Trump that his goal is a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, and said the president provides a new opportunity for a peace deal.
Abbas pointed toward a likely partnership while crediting Trump's "great negotiating ability".
"Now Mr. President with you we have hope", he added in the only English-language remarks he made.