US President Trump has vowed to "do whatever is necessary" to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians. After meeting Palestinian leader Abbas, Trump said peace is "maybe not as difficult as people have thought."
After a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, US President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he'd "love to be a mediator, an arbitrator or a facilitator" between Israel and the Palestinians in a bid to achieve a Middle East peace agreement.
The US president said he believes, "We will get it done." But he also conceded that a deal "cannot be imposed by the United States or any other nation."
"It's ... something that I think is frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years," he said at the beginning of a lunch with Abbas and senior US and Palestinian leaders.
No new strategy
In doing so, Trump committed his administration to helping to resolve the decades-old conflict, something his three direct predecessors have failed to achieve. But at the same time, he didn't offer any new strategy about how peace could be achieved.
Questions have been raised about Trump’s choice of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who entered the White House with no government experience, to oversee Middle East peace efforts, along with Trump’s longtime business lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, as on-the-ground envoy.
Abbas spoke through an interpreter and was equally positive, saying: "We are coming into a new opportunity a new horizon that would enable us to bring about peace."
Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is to over Middle East peace efforts on behalf of the US administration
But he added that peace with Israel must be "based on the vision of two states" based on the 1967 borders with the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and renewed his call for Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land.
Abbas said he hoped the US could be "true partners" to bring about a historic settlement.
But Trump's commitment was met with skepticism in diplomatic quarters, coming just two months after he broke with the longstanding US policy of advocating a two-state solution, and vowed to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, breaking with US policies that have lasted decades.
That move would likely spark Palestinian fury and is privately seen by many in the Israel and US security establishments as needlessly inflammatory.
On Tuesday, US Vice President Mike Pence said that "serious consideration" was still being given to the embassy move.
Plans are being made for Trump to visit Netanyahu in Jerusalem later this month, and possibly meet Abbas in the West Bank, the Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday. It said US and Israeli officials have declined to confirm the trip.
mm/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)