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Hosting Palestinian leader, Trump promises Middle East peace

12 Mai 2017

Speaking as he hosted his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, the United States president offered no clues about how he could break the political deadlock and revive stalled peace negotiations.

In his first face-to-face meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the president said it has proven to be a very hard situation between Israel and the Palestinians, calling it "the toughest deal". "But I would love to be a mediator, or an arbitrator, or a facilitator, and we will get this done". He's crediting Trump for his wisdom and says he believes they can be "true partners.to bring about a historic peace treaty".

In their first face-to-face meeting, Trump pressed Palestinian leaders to "speak in a unified voice against incitement" to violence against Israelis but he stopped short of explicitly recommitting his administration to a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict, a longstanding bedrock of US policy.

But Abbas also hopes to use the meeting to improve his diminished stature both at home and overseas, analysts say.

While traditionally considering the whole of Israel as occupied territory, Meshal focused primarily on Israel's military occupation of and settlement construction in the West Bank, saying this was part of Israel's "intransigence" that warranted pressure from the Trump administration.

"It's about time for Israel to stop occupying our land", he said. On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence said the White House was giving "serious consideration" to the idea.

The meeting is the first step toward a potential restart of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "I'm looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like", Trump said in response to a question about the two-state policy, indicating that he did not have any real preference. Abbas was the signatory for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and the agreement established the PA as a self-government body in 1994. "There can be no lasting peace unless Palestinian leaders speak with a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate", Trump said.

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Asked what distinguishes Trump's plans from previous attempts, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said merely: "The man is different". Israel also opposes Palestinian demands on refugees and stakes its claim on an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

In statements from the Roosevelt room at the White House flanked by both the American and the Palestinian flags, Trump gave a much-needed boost to Abbas ahead of a working lunch with the delegation.

The Presidents met in the Oval Office.

The Palestinian leader also praised Trump's reputation as a dealmaker, saying that would be a benefit in their talks with the Israelis.

President Trump promised he might be able to do what eluded his predecessors for decades - brokering peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

That could prose major domestic political headaches for Abbas, as he battles unpopularity and challenges from rival factions.