“We will get it done,” Trump told Abbas at their first meeting in Washington, although the reason for his optimism towards achieving a sustainable peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians was not apparent.
Despite bleak prospects for success, President Donald Trump promised on Wednesday “to do whatever is necessary” to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
At a White House meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Trump pledged to reinvigorate the stalled Mideast peace process that has bedeviled his predecessors and said he would serve as “a mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator” between the two sides. “We will get it done,” Trump confidently told Abbas.
“I’m committed to working with Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement,” Trump said. “But any agreement cannot be imposed by the United States or by any other nation. The Palestinians and Israelis must work together to reach an agreement that allows both peoples to live, worship, and thrive and prosper in peace.”
The source of Trump’s optimism was not immediately apparent. He offered no details about his effort or how it would be any different from attempts over the past two decades. Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all tried and failed.
The peace process has been stalled since 2014, and there have been no serious attempts to restart negotiations.
Like previous U.S. leaders, Trump faces numerous obstacles in the long-shot bid. They include the contours of a potential Palestinian state, Jerusalem’s status and the question of Palestinian refugees. Complicating it all are the vehement Palestinian criticisms of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria and the Israeli complaints that the Palestinian leadership, including Abbas, incites violence and terror.
Opposing Israeli, Palestinian Demands
Abbas said he is committed to peace, but he made clear Palestinian demands for a separate state based on borders that existed before the 1967 Mideast war, a capital in east Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees.
“Our strategic option, our strategic choice is to bring about peace based on the vision of two states, a Palestinian state, with its capital of east Jerusalem, that lives in peace and stability with the state of Israel based on the borders of 1967,” he said.
Israel rejects the 1967 lines as a possible border, saying it would impose grave security risks. Israel also opposes Palestinian demands on refugees and insists on maintaining an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
Trump did not discuss any of those issues Wednesday. But in a February news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump broke with longtime U.S. policy by raising the idea of a one-state peace agreement, withholding clear support for an independent Palestine. U.S. officials quickly stressed afterward that Trump would support any arrangement agreed by the two sides.
U.S. officials had said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting that Trump would press Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails. But Trump didn’t specifically mention that issue in his brief remarks after the Oval Office session.
Demand to End Funding to Terrorists Made Earlier
American officials said such a request was raised in preparatory talks with Palestinian officials. Three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the issue was included during discussions earlier in the day, over lunch, as well as after the joint statement to the press.
“Some of the topics that were discussed during their meeting and the lunch were advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace, preventing incitement to violence, particularly [from] media outlets directly associated with the Palestinian Authority, strengthening efforts to combat terrorism – including defeating ISIS – measures to empower the Palestinian economy and provide economic opportunity for the Palestinian people, and, additionally, the president raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue,” Spicer said.
In the joint statement, however, Trump did directly implore the Palestinian leadership to end what Israel and the US say is anti-Israel rhetoric.
“There can be no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to…violence, and hate,” the president said. “There’s such hatred, but hopefully there won’t be such hatred for very long.”
In his comments, Abbas praised Trump for his “leadership,” “courageous stewardship,” ”wisdom” and “great negotiating ability.”
Abbas Claims Palestinians Raised in ‘Culture of Peace’
Abbas said Palestinians are not cultivating a hatred of Israel as he rejected Trump’s position, which is also held by Netanyahu.
“I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace,” Abbas said, notwithstanding the anti-Israel hate and incitement to violence prevalent in Palestinian schools, media and cultural events.
Palestinian streets, squares and cultural institutions are frequently named after terrorists with blood on their hands. In a recent example of Palestinian incitement, a youth camp was named in honor of the leader of a mass-casualty terror attack, The PLO’s Supreme Council for Youth and Sports announced the naming a youth camp “Brothers of Dalal” after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi.
In 1978, Mughrabi led the Coastal Road massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists hijacked a bus and killed 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children, and wounding over 70. It was one of the most horrific terror attacks in Israeli history.
Ramallah District Governor Ramallah Laila Ghannam, a Palestinian Authority (PA) official, praised the initiative for “remembering the pure-hearted Martyrs.”
Trump Meets With Abbas Who Says There Will Be ‘No Peace Without Jerusalem Capital For Muslims’
President Trump and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday vowed to work together to strike a peace deal with Israel that would bring stability to the Middle East
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” Zechariah 14:4 (KJV)
EDITOR’S NOTE: President Trump’s meeting with Palestine president Mahmoud Abbas presented a rather tricky balancing act. Tricky because candidate Trump ran on a campaign promise of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognizing Jerusalem as “Israel’s eternal capital”. But Abbas stated today that without East Jerusalem being given to the palestinians as their capital, there will be “no peace deal”. In the end, it all comes down to one thing and one thing only – who controls Jerusalem. Exactly how the Bible said it would be in the end times.
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” Zechariah 12:3 (KJV)
“We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It’s been a long time. But we will be working diligently,” Trump said during a joint appearance with Abbas at the White House.
“I look much forward to working with you in order to come to that historical agreement, historic deal to bring about peace,” Abbas replied, speaking through a translator.
Trump called on Abbas to renounce terrorism, saying there could be no peace deal with Israel unless Palestinian leaders condemned anti-Israeli violence.
“There could be no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate. There’s such hatred, but hopefully, there won’t be such hatred for very long. All children of God must be taught to value and respect human life and condemn all of those who target the innocent,” he said.
President Trump Meets with President Abbas:
The pair were expected to meet through most of the afternoon during the Palestinian leader’s first visit to the White House in about 24 years — since he signed an earlier peace deal with Israel.
“It was on these grounds that President Abbas stood with a courageous peacemaker, then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Here at the White House, President Abbas signed a declaration of principles, very important, which laid the foundation for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Trump said.
But Abbas in his remarks set parameters for a deal that Israel would likely oppose.
“Our strategic choice is to bring about peace based on the vision of the two-state [solution], a Palestinian state with its capital of East Jerusalem that lives in peace and stability with the state of Israel based on the border of 1967,” he said, referring to the borders before the Arab-Israeli war that year.
Israel has staunchly opposed giving up all of the land it annexed on the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
Both Trump and Abbas said a peace deal would go a long way to ending the instability that led to the rise of radical Islamic terrorists such as ISIS, which Abbas said “has nothing to do with our noble religion.”
Donald Trump Promises To Move Embassy From Tel Aviv To Jerusalem:
The Palestinian leader also praised Trump’s reputation as a dealmaker, saying that would be a benefit in their talks with the Israelis.
“I believe that we are capable under your leadership and your stewardship and your wisdom as well your great negotiating ability, I believe with the grace of God and with all of your effort, we believe that we can be partners, true partners to you to bring about a historic peace treaty,” he said.
Trump was expected to pressure Abbas to end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails, one of several actions Washington believes could lead to resumed peace talks with Israel.
Others include a Palestinian end to anti-Israel rhetoric and incitement of violence, administration officials said.
Israel considers payments to families a reward for terrorists, but stopping them could be a non-starter for Abbas, especially at a time of broad Palestinian support for a mass hunger strike by prisoners held by Israel. US officials said such a request was raised in preparatory talks with Palestinian officials, and three Republican senators urged a halt to such payments in a letter to Trump that reflected widespread opinion in Congress.
Why Israel can’t withdraw to its pre-196 borders:
While Abbas will be challenged on the payments, Trump will also use their meeting to recommit the US to helping the Palestinians improve their economic conditions, officials said. Trump, they added, will reiterate his belief that Israeli settlement construction on land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace prospects.
The peace process has been stalled since 2014, when former Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to lead the sides into peace talks collapsed. Since then, there have been no serious attempts to get negotiations restarted.
The Obama administration spent its last months in office attempting to preserve conditions for an eventual resumption.
“We hope this will be a new beginning,” Abbas told Palestinians at a meeting in Washington on the eve of the talks.
He blamed the lack of dialogue in recent years on the Israeli government, saying its leaders “have no political vision,” and reiterated his demands for an independent Palestinian state along pre-1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
“Without this we will not accept any solution,” said Abbas, who touted an Arab League peace plan that offers Israel diplomatic relations with the Muslim world for a Palestinian state. “There is no alternative.”
Israel rejects the 1967 lines as a possible border, saying it would impose grave security risks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hasn’t outlined an alternative demarcation.